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Full text of "The flowers and gardens of Japan"

THE STORKS 



WISTARIA, KYOMIDZU 



THE FLOWERS 



AND 



GARDENS OF JAPAN 

PAINTED BY 

ELLA DU CANE 

t 

DESCRIBED BY 

FLORENCE DU CANE 




PUBLISHED BY . [/( SOHO SQUARE 

ADAM e? CHARLES!/ LONDON . w. 

BLACK Jtt: MCMVIII 



PREFACE 

AN apology is due to the reader for adding this 
volume to the long list of books already written 
on Japan ; but, being a lover of flowers myself, I 
found there was no book giving a short account 
of the flora of the country which is so often called 
the Land of Flowers. Hence my excuse for 
offering these pages, either to those who may be 
intending to visit, or to those who may wish to 
recall the memories of a sojourn in the Land of 
the Rising Sun. 

The book does not pretend to furnish a complete 
list of all the flowers to be found in the country, 
but rather to give a description of those which are 
most remarkable for their beauty and profusion, 
and which are most closely associated with Japan. 
The pages on landscape gardening have been con- 
densed, partly owing to want of space, and also 



vi FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

because I felt that those who take a real and 
thorough interest in the subject have Mr. Conder's 
admirable volumes on "Landscape Gardening in 
Japan" to help them in the study of the most 
complicated form of gardening in the world. Being 
debarred, through lack of sufficient knowledge of 
the language, from availing myself of original 
works in Japanese, I have drawn much informa- 
tion from Mr. Conder's works, and from those of 
other foreigners ; but I wish gratefully to acknow- 
ledge the help I received from Mr. Y. Noguchi, 
who provided me with the flower legends and 
fairy tales, which are household words in ever} 
Japanese home. 

FLORENCE DU CANE. 



CONTENTS 

CHAP. PAGE 

1. LANDSCAPE GARDENING ...... 1 

2. STONES GARDEN ORNAMENTS AND FENCES . 19 

3. LANDSCAPE GARDENS 38 

4. NURSERY GARDENS DWARF TREES AND HACHI-NIWA 55 

5. TEMPLE GARDENS 72 

6. SUMMER FLOWERS 87 

7. PLUM BLOSSOM 104 

8. PEACH BLOSSOM 119 

9. CHERRY BLOSSOM . . . . . . .127 

10. WISTARIA AND P^EONY . . . . . .146 

11. AZALEAS ......... l6l 

12. THE IRIS 169 

13. THE MORNING GLORY 181 

14. THE LOTUS . .186 

15. THE CHRYSANTHEMUM 197 

16. THE MAPLE LEAVES 214 

17. THE BAMBOO . 223 

18. THE PINE-TREE 236 



vn 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



FACIXO PAGK 



1. Wistaria, Kyomidzu ..... Frontispiece 

2. Wistaria in a Kyoto Garden 4 

3. The Storks 12 

4. Azaleas in a Kyoto Garden 22 

5. Azaleas, Kyoto 28 

6. Tiger Lilies .34 

7. An Old Garden . 40 

8. Satake Garden, Tokyo 42 

9. A Tokyo Garden 46 

10. A Landscape Garden . . . . . . 52 

11. The Old Wistaria 60 

12. At Kitano Tenjin 72 

13. The Drooping Cherry 74 

14. A Shrine at Kyomidzu ...... 78 

15. Wliite Cherry at Kitano 80 

16. Cherry Blossom, Chion-in Temple .... 84 

17. The Kobai Plum Blossom ... .92 

18. Lilinm Auratum ....... 96 

19- Lilies on the Rocks, Atami 98 

20. An Hydrangea Bush 100 

21. Viewing the Plum Blossoms . . . . .104 

22. The Gate of the Plum Garden . . . 106 

ix 



x FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

FACING PAGE 

23. The Time of the Plum Blossoms . . . .110 

24. Plum Blossom and Lanterns 116 

25. Peach Blossom . . . . . . . .120 

26. The Pagoda, Kyomidzu 126 

27. A Buddhist Shrine 130 

28. The Feast of the Cherry Blossoms . . . .132 

29. The Pink Cherry 138 

30. Cherry-tree at Kyomidzu . . . ... 142 

31. Wistaria, Kameido "".', , 148 

32. Wistaria, Nagaoka ,.152 

33. A Paeony Garden ,154 

34. Wistaria, Kabata . . . . . .158 

35. Azaleas 162 

36. Azaleas, Nagaoka ...... . 164 

37. Azaleas, Awata .166 

38. An Iris Garden 172 

39. Irises . . . 178 

40. Lotus at Kodaiji 1 86 

41. Lotus at Kyomidzu .... . . .188 

42. Lotus Flowers 194 

43. Chrysanthemums, Kyoto . . . . . .198 

44. A Chrysanthemum Garden 204 

45. Chrysanthemums 208 

46. The Scarlet Maple 214 

47. Viewing the Maples 218 

48. Irises, Horikiri . 230 

49. Pine-tree at Matsushima . .... 238 

50. Azalea and Pine-tree 244 



FLOWERS & GARDENS OF JAPAN 
CHAPTER I 

LANDSCAPE GARDENING 

IT is safe to assert that no other country has such 
a distinctive form of landscape gardening as Japan. 
In English, French, Italian, and Dutch gardens, 
however original in their way, there are certain 
things they seem all to possess in common : terraces, 
which originally belonged to Italian gardens, were 
soon introduced into France ; clipped trees, which 
were a distinctive feature of Dutch gardens, were 
copied by the English ; the fashion of decorating 
gardens with flights of stone steps, balustrades, 
fountains, and statues at one time spread from Italy 
throughout Europe ; and possibly the over-decora- 
tion of gardens led to a change in taste in England 
and a return to a more natural style. The gardens 
of China and Japan have remained unique; the 
Eastern style of gardening has never spread to any 



Y*v 



2 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

other country, nor is it ever likely to ; for, just as no 
Western artist will ever paint in the same manner 
as an Oriental artist because his whole artistic sense 
is different, so no Western gardener could ever 
hope to construct a garden representing a portion 
of the natural scenery of Japan which is the aim 
and object of every good Japanese landscape garden, 
however small because, however long he might 
study the original scene, he would never arrive at 
the Japanese conception of it, or realise what it 
conveyed to the mind of a Japanese. Their art 
of gardening was originally borrowed from the 
Chinese, who appear to have been the first to con- 
t miniature mountains, and to bring water 
oma distance to feed miniature water-falls and 
mountain torrents. They even went so far as, in 
one enclosure, to represent separate scenes for 
different seasons of the year, and different hours 
of the day, but to the Japanese belongs the 
honour of having perfected the art of landscape 
gardening. 

It is not my intention to weary the reader with 
technical information on the subject, which he will 
find admirably explained in Mr. Conder's volume 
on Landscape Gardening in Japan, but an out- 
line of some of the theories and rules which guide 



LANDSCAPE GARDENING 3 

the Japanese gardener will help us to appreciate 
his work and give an additional interest to the 
hours spent in these refreshing retreats from the 
outer world. 

The designer of a good landscape garden has to 
be guided by many things. A scene must be 
chosen suited to the size of the ground and the 
house, and its natural surroundings ; and the 
Japanese garden being above all a spot for 
secluded leisure and meditation, the temperament, 
sentiment, and even the occupation of the owner 
are brought into consideration. Their conception 
of the expression of nature is governed in its 
execution by endless aesthetic rules ; considerations 
of scale, proportion, unity, and balance, in fact all 
that tends to artistic harmony, must be considered, 
so as to preserve the perfect balance of the picture, 
and any neglect would destroy that feeling of 
repose which is so essential in the landscape garden. 
When we realise that the art has occupied the 
minds of poets, sages, and philosophers, it is not to 
be wondered at that something more than the 
simple representation of natural views has entered 
into the spirit of their schemes, which attain to 
poetical conceptions ; and a garden may be designed 
to suggest definite ideas and associations, in fact 



4 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

the whole art is enshrouded by quaint aesthetic 
principles, and it is difficult for the Western mind 
to unravel the endless laws and theories by which 
it is governed. 

In gardens which cover a larger area the scheme 
must necessarily be very different from that required 
for the making of a tiny garden, only some few 
yards square, but the materials used will be the same ; 
only the stone bridges and garden ornaments will 
all be in proportion to the size of the garden, for the 
rule of proportion is perhaps the most important of 
all. I visited a garden which was being enlarged 
by the addition of a hill and the suggestion of 
mountain forests, to give the impression of unknown 
limits. The owner explained that as he had en- 
larged his house it was therefore necessary at the 
same time to enlarge his garden. A landscape 
garden may be of any size, from the miniature 
scenes, representing pigmy groves, and mossy 
precipices, with lilliputian torrents of white sand, 
compressed into the area of a china dish, to the 
vast gardens with their broad sheets of water and 
majestic trees which surrounded the Daimyo 
castles of old or the Imperial palaces of to-day ; 
but the sense of true proportion must be rigidly 
adhered to. Large rocks and boulders are out of 



LANDSCAPE GARDENING 5 

place in a small garden, and small stones in a large 
garden would be equally unsuitable. The teachers 
of the craft have been most careful to preserve the 
purity of style. Over-decoration is condemned as 
vulgar ostentation, and faulty designs have even 
been regarded as unlucky, in order to avoid degener- 
ation in the art. 

In some of the most extensive gardens it is not 
uncommon to represent several favourite views, 
and yet the composition will be so contrived 
that all the separate scenes work into one har- 
monious whole. In the immediate foreground of 
a nobleman's house there will be an elaborately 
finished garden full of detail and carefully composed, 
the stones employed will be the choicest, the water- 
basin of quaint and beautiful design. Stone 
lanterns in keeping with the scene will be found, 
miniature pagodas possibly, and a few slabs of 
some precious stone to form the bridges. Farther 
away from the house the scheme should be less 
finished. Surrounding the simple room set apart 
for the tea ceremony the law forbids the garden to 
be finished in style, it must be rather rough and 
sketchy, and then if some natural wild scene is 
represented, a broad effect must be retained ; a 
simple clump of pines or cryptomerias near a little 



6 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

garden shrine will represent some favourite temple, 
or a small grove of maples and cherry-trees by 
the side of a stream of running water will suggest 
the scenery of Arashiyama or some other romantic 
and poetical spot. 

To our Western ideas it seems impossible that 
a garden without flowers could be a thing of beauty, 
or give any pleasure to its owner. Yet, strange as 
it may appear, flowers for their own sakes do not 
enter into the scheme of Japanese gardening, and 
if any blossoms are to be found, it is probably, so 
to speak, by accident, because the particular shrub 
or plant which may happen to be in flower was 
the one best suited by its growth for the position 
it occupies in the garden. For instance, azaleas are 
often seen covering the banks with gorgeous masses 
of colour, but they are only allowed, either on 
account of their picturesque growth and the fact 
that they are included in the natural vegetation of 
the scene produced, or else because the bushes can 
be cut into regulation shapes, which, as often as 
not, is done when the flowers are just opening. 
Though the Japanese are great lovers of flowers, 
their taste is so governed by rules, that they are 
extremely fastidious in their choice of the blossoms 
they consider worthy of admiration. The rose and 



LANDSCAPE GARDENING 7 

the lily are rejected as unworthy, their charms are 
too obvious : their favourites are the iris, paeony, 
wistaria, lotus, morning glory, and chrysanthemum ; 
and even among these the iris, wistaria, and possibly 
the lotus, are the only ones which seem ever to be 
allowed to belong in any way to the real design of 
the garden. Flowering trees take more part, and 
the plum, peach, cherry, magnolia, and camellia 
are all permitted ; and the numerous fancy varieties 
of the maple, whose leaves enrich the autumn 
landscape with their scarlet glory, are as much 
prized as any of the blossoming shrubs. It is 
rather to the storm-bent old pine-trees and other 
evergreen trees and shrubs, to the mossy lichen- 
covered stones, to the clever manipulation of the 
water to represent a miniature mountain cascade 
or a flowing river, and to broad stretches of 
velvety moss .that the true Japanese garden owes 
its beauty. 

Mr. Conder tells us that the earliest style of 
gardening in the country was called the Imperial 
Audience Hall Style, because, not unnaturally, it 
was round the palaces and houses of the great 
nobles that the idea was first adopted of arranging 
the ground to suggest a real landscape. The 
designs appear to have been primitive, but they 



8 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

usually contained a large irregular lake, with at 
least one island reached by a bridge of picturesque 
form. Later from the middle of the twelfth to 
the beginning of the fourteenth century the art 
of gardening was much practised and encouraged 
by the Buddhist priests. They even went so far as 
to ascribe imaginary religious and moral attributes 
to the grouping of the stones, a custom which has 
more or less survived to this day and is described 
elsewhere. In those days a lake came to be 
regarded as a necessary feature, and poetical names 
were given to the little islets, just as the pine-clad 
islands of Matsu-shima have each their poetical 
name. Cascades also received names according to 
their character, such as the "Thread Fall," the 
"Spouting Fall," or the "Side Fall." In the 
making of a garden then, as to-day, the first work 
was the excavation of the lake, the designing and 
forming of the islands, the placing in position of a 
few of the most important stones, and finally the 
arrangement of the waterfall or stream which was 
to feed the lake, and the outlet had also to be 
carefully considered. After this period came the 
fashion of representing lakes and rivers by means 
of hollowed -out beds and courses, merely strewn 
with sand, pebbles, and boulders, a practice followed 



LANDSCAPE GARDENING 9 

also to this day where water is not available. 
Shallow water or dried-up river-beds are suggested 
in this way, and therefore the style received the 
name of Dried-up Water Scenery. Artificial hills 
were used, stones and winding pathways were 
introduced, and large rocks helped to suggest 
natural scenery. 

It was in the fifteenth century that the art of 
gardening received the greatest encouragement and 
attention at the hands of the Ashikaya Regents, 
who also encouraged the other arts of flower 
arrangement tea ceremony and poetry. The 
Professors of Cha no yu (tea ceremony) became the 
principal designers of gardens, and they naturally 
turned their attention to the ground which 
surrounded the rooms set apart for this ceremonial 
tea-drinking ; and to the famous Soami, who was 
a Professor of Tea-ceremonial and the Floral Art, 
they owe the practice of clipping trees and shrubs 
into fantastic shapes. Though the Japanese never 
attained to th unnatural eccentricities of the Dutch 
in their manner of using clipped trees, yet in many 
old and modern gardens a pine-tree may be seen 
clipped and trained in the shape of a junk, and a 
juniper may be trained to form a light bridge to 
fling across a tiny stream ; but as a rule the gardener 



10 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

contents himself by training and clipping his pine- 
tree to mould it into the shape of an abnormal 
storm-bent specimen of great age. To that period 
belonged Kobori Enshiu, the designer of so many 
celebrated gardens, and to him we owe the garden 
of the Katsura Rikui, a detached Palace near Kyoto, 
which, though fallen into decay, retains much of its 
former beauty, especially when the scarlet azalea 
bushes, which now escape the clipping they no 
doubt were subjected to in old days, light up the 
scene, their lichen-clad stems bending under the 
weight of their blossoms and enhancing the 
beauty of the moss-grown lanterns and stones. 
The garden which surrounded the temple of 
Kodaiji, a portion only of the grounds of the old 
palace of Awata, the Konchi-in garden of the 
Nanzenji Temple, and many other specimens of 
his work remain in Kyoto alone. He is reported 
to have said that his ideal garden should express 
"the sweet solitude of a landscape clouded by 
moonlight, with a half gloom between the trees." 
Rikiu, another great tea professor and designer 
of landscape gardens, said the best conception of 
his fancy would be that of the " lonely precincts 
of a secluded mountain shrine, with the red leaves 
of autumn scattered around." However different 



LANDSCAPE GARDENING 11 

their ideal, they all agreed that the tea garden was \ 
to be somewhat wild in character, suggesting repose 
and solitude. Then came the more modem style 
of gardening : from 1789 to 1830 was a period 
when large palaces were built and surrounded by 
magnificent gardens, fit residences for the great 
Tokugawa feudal lords. For these gardens great 
sums were expended on collecting stones from all 
parts of the country, and often a garden would be 
left unfinished until the exact stone suited to 
express the required religious or poetical feeling, 
or else specially required to complete a miniature 
natural scene, had been procured. The ex- 
travagance in this craving for rare stones, which 
cost vast sums to transport immense distances, 
reached such a pitch, that at last, in the Tempo 
period (1830-1844), an edict was issued limiting 
the sum which might be paid for a single specimen. 
Stone and granite lanterns of infinite variety 
in size and shape were introduced with their 
poetical names, each having a special position 
assigned to it by the unbending laws which 
surround this art, for the arrangement of not only 
every tree and stone, but almost every blade of 
grass and drop of water. I feel my readers will 
begin to think that there must be a lack of variety 



12 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

in these landscape gardens, but I can safely say 
that never did I see and I saw a great many 
any two gardens, large or small, which bore any 
resemblance to each other ; the materials are the 
same, but the design is never the same. 

Garden water-basins, miniature pagodas, stone 
bridges, also of infinite variety, and other garden 
ornaments, such as rustic arbours, fanciful construc- 
tions of bamboo, reeds, or plaited rushes, primitive, 
fragile-looking structures, but none the less costly, 
were made use of, and a few rare birds, such as 
storks and cranes, were allowed to wander and 
adorn the scene with their stately grace. Here 
and there the crooked branches of stunted pine- 
trees of great age overhung the lake or stream, 
transplanted probably with infinite care ; but no 
trouble and no expense was too great to make 
these gardens fitting settings for the castles and 
palaces of those great lords. Alas, how few re- 
main to-day in anything like their former splen- 
dour ; the hand of the Goth has swept away most 
of the ancient glories of Yedo, and on the spot 
where these princely dwellings and gardens stood, 
to-day some great factory chimneys rise and belch 
forth columns of smoke, which will surely bring 
death and destruction to the pines and cherry-trees 



LANDSCAPE GARDENING 13 

of Uyeno or the avenues of Mukojima, which are 
still the pride of Tokyo. 

Tokyo may still retain the remains of some of her 
princely gardens, but I fear she has lost her love 
of gardening ; the town is too large, too crowded ; 
the rich who could afford to make new gardens, 
even if the old ones are swept away, prefer to live 
in foreign houses of impossible architectural design ; 
the public gardens are no longer laid out in true 
Japanese style, but suggestive rather of foreign 
gardens of the worst form and taste, so if you 
would see the making of a new garden it is to 
Kyoto you must wend your way. Here the love 
of landscape gardening seems still alive, and 
though the gardens may not surround the palaces 
of the Daimyos, yet these humbler gardens which 
as often as not surround the house of a rich Osaka 
tradesman are none the less beautiful for that 
reason ; and I was glad to think that riches had 
not, as is too often the case, brought with it a love 
for foreign life and stamped out the true Japanese, 
and that here at least are left many who are 
content to spend their hours of leisure in the 
contemplation and in the repose of a true land- 
scape garden. 

In the course of an evening walk on the out- 



14 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

skirts of Kyoto I came upon a half-built house. 
Through the newly planted cryptomeria hedge 
could be seen glimpses of stone lanterns, rocks, 
and a few trees kept in place by bamboo props, 
while in the road outside lay stones of all colours, 
shapes, and sizes. Garden coolies were passing 
in and out, carrying baskets of earth slung on 
bamboo poles, so it was evident that a garden 
was being made. My curiosity was aroused, so 
I ventured within the enclosure, and, in the most 
polite language I could command, asked permission 
of the owner to watch the interesting work. A 
Japanese is always gratified by the genuine interest 
of a foreigner in anything connected with his 
home, and will usually point out the special 
features of the object of interest in eloquent and 
poetical phrases, confusing enough to the foreigner, 
whose command of the Japanese language cannot 
as a rule rise to such heights. On this occasion, 
however, any explanation was unnecessary, the 
scene in itself was sufficient to call forth my 
admiration and surprise. The piece of ground 
occupied by the garden did not comprise more 
than half an acre, and was merely the plot usually 
attached to any suburban villa in England. Not- 
withstanding the limited space, a perfect landscape 



LANDSCAPE GARDENING 15 

was growing out of the chaos of waste ground 
which had been chosen as the site of the house. 
A miniature lake of irregular shape had been dug 
out ; an island consisting of just one bold rock, to 
be christened no doubt in due time with some 
fanciful name, had been placed in position ; and 
there were the " Guardian Stone," always the most 
important stone in the near distance, and its 
associates the "Stone of Worship" also sometimes 
called the " Stone of Contemplation," as from this 
stone the best general view of the garden is 
obtained and the "Stone of the Two Deities." 
The presence of these three stones being essential in 
the composition of every garden, they are probably 
the first to be placed. A few trees of venerable 
appearance had already been planted in the 
orthodox places ; and already one spreading pine- 
tree stretched across the future lake, supported on 
an elaborate framework of bamboo, to give it 
exactly the right shape and direction ; near to 
it, and resting on a slab of rock at the very edge 
of the water, was a stone lantern of the " Snow 
Scene " shape ; the two forming the principal 
features of the garden, upon which the eye rested 
involuntarily. Another stone lantern stood in the 
shadow of a tall and twisted pine, half buried in 



16 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

low-growing shrubs, bedded in moss of a golden- 
brown colour. On one side was a bank thickly 
planted with azaleas, groups of maples, or camellias, 
and at the far end of the garden some tall 
evergreen trees cleverly disguised the boundary 
line of the hedge and gave the impression that 
the garden had no ending, save in the wooded hills 
that shut in the surrounding valley. A cutting in 
the bank and a wonderfully natural arrangement of 
" Cascade Stones " showed where the water would 
eventually rush in from the stream outside, which 
had its source in Lake Biwa. A path of beaten 
earth with stepping-stones embedded in it wound 
round the little lake and through the grove at 
the side; a simple bridge of mere slabs of stone 
crossed the water to where the pathway ended in 
the inevitable tea-room. Many more lanterns, 
pagodas, and other garden ornaments lay on the 
ground waiting for their allotted place, while a 
whole nursery of trees carefully laid in loose earth 
showed that much more planting was needed to 
complete the garden, which would some day be 
the pride and delight of the owner's heart. 

The whole country is often searched for a tree 
of exactly the right size and shape required for a 
particular position, and while watching the work 



LANDSCAPE GARDENING 17 

of making this new garden I was much struck by 
the extraordinary skill the Japanese display in the 
transplanting of trees of almost any size and age. 
The season chosen for their removal is the spring, 
when the sap is rising, and the dampness of the 
climate and the rich soil no doubt help considerably 
towards their success in moving these old trees ; 
unlike England, spring is their best season for 
planting, as the trees will have all the benefit of 
the summer rains and run no risk of drought or 
cold winds. The roots are trenched round, to our 
idea, perilously near the tree ; as much earth is 
retained as possible and bound round with matting. 
Five or six coolies with a length of rope, a few 
poles, and not a little ingenuity, will move the 
largest tree in a very short time. There is no 
machinery or fuss of any kind, merely a hand- 
barrow, on which the tree rests on its journey. 
Very little preparation is made in the place where 
the tree is to be planted ; no trenching of the 
ground, or preparing of vast holes to be filled with 
prepared soil, only a hole just large enough for the 
ball of earth surrounding the roots is considered 
sufficient. The tree is then put in place, upright 
or leaning, according to the effect required, the 
soil tightly rammed round the roots, the necessary 



18 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

pruning and propping carefully attended to ; the 
ground artistically planted with moss and made 
to look as if it had never been disturbed for 
centuries, and the thing is done. I remember 
seeing a piece of ground which was being prepared 
for building, on which were a few plum-trees 
of considerable size and age ; these were being 
carefully removed, doubtless to give a venerable 
appearance to some new garden, or to be planted 
in a nursery garden until they should be wanted 
elsewhere, surely a better fate than would have 
awaited them in our country under similar circum- 
stances, where the devastating axe of the builder's 
labourer would certainly have cleared the ground 
in a few minutes of what he would have regarded 
as useless rubbish. 



CHAPTER II 

STONES GARDEN ORNAMENTS AND FENCES 

STONES and rocks are such important features in 
all Japanese gardens that when choosing the 
material for the making of a landscape garden, 
however large or however small, the selection of 
the stones would appear to be the primary con- 
sideration. Their size must be in perfect proportion 
with the house and grounds which they are to 
transform into a natural landscape, and they will 
give the scale for all the other materials used the 
lanterns, bridges, and water-basins, and even the 
trees and fences. Their number may vary from 
five important stones to as many as 138, each with 
its especial sense and function. I think the correct 
position and placing of the stones is the part of the 
art which it would be most difficult for a foreigner 
to accomplish : the mere names and special functions 
of the stones would require years of careful study. 



19 



20 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

To the eye of a Japanese one stone wrongly placed 
would upset all the balance and repose of the 
picture. Large rocks and boulders seem to be 
essential for the success of a large garden, and are 
used to suggest mountains, hills, and the rocks of 
the natural scene ; any very fantastic and artificial- 
looking rocks are avoided, for fear they should give 
an appearance of unreality to the landscape. The 
fancy of giving sex to certain stones, and in temple 
grounds of assigning holy attributes and even of 
giving them the names of Buddhist deities, dates 
from very early days, and this custom of applying a 
religious meaning to the most important rocks sur- 
vives to this day. Mr. Conder tells us that "formerly 
it was said that the principal boulders of a garden 
should represent the Kuji, or Nine Spirits of the 
Buddhist pantheon, five being of standing and four 
of recumbent form ; and it was supposed that 
misfortune was averted by observing this classifica- 
tion." Stones of good shape, colour, and proportion 
are treasured as carefully as any jewel, and in the 
gardens of the rich are brought together from all 
parts of the empire. The granite for slabs, steps, 
and lanterns may come from the neighbourhood of 
Osaka, Bingo, and other places. Large blocks which 
have an irregular surface are usually limestones, 



STONES ORNAMENTS AND FENCES 21 

and the action of water has produced those much- 
coveted shapes. Blue and white limestone and 
kind of jasper rock of a reddish colour are prized 
for certain positions, slabs of a dark green colour 
seemed to come from the vicinity of Lake Biwa, 
and volcanic rock and honeycombed sea-rocks are 
valuable for water scenes. It would only weary 
the reader if I were to attempt to describe the 
endless combinations of stones as laid down by the 
unbending laws, or to give all the names applied 
to the various sets of stones known as Hill Stones, 
Lake and River Stones, Cascade Stones, Island 
Stones, Valley Stones, Water-basin Stones, Tea- 
garden Stones, and, finally, Stepping- Stones. Often 
did I regret that my knowledge of the art was not 
sufficient to enable me to recognise all these various 
stones. How intensely it would add to one's 
appreciation of these perfect specimens of artificial 
scenery if one could at once among the Hill Stones 
point out the " Mountain Summit Stone " and the 
poetical "Propitious Cloud Stone," or the "Mist- 
enveloped Stone " ; or among the River and Lake 
Stones find the " Sentinel Stone," which, as its 
name suggests, should be placed in the position 
of a look-out man near the edge of the water ; or 
the " Wave-receiving Stone " hidden in the current 



22 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

of the stream. So often the water scenery of 
the garden is intended to represent sea-views, the 
favourite being a portion of the scenery of Matsu- 
shima with its countless islets, that many of these 
Lake Stones have names suggestive of the sea; 
such as the "Sea-gull Resting Stone," situated 
on a stony beach, or the " Wild Wave Stone," 
placed so as to meet the current of the water. 

Next come the Cascade Stones, which do 
not seem quite so numerous, and among them 
one at least forms so important a feature in 
every garden that it is easy to distinguish the 
"Guardian Stone," which should form the main 
part of the rocky cliff over which the water falls ; it 
is also sometimes called the " Cascade-supporting 
Stone." "The Stone of Fudo," named after a 
Buddhist god, and its eight small attendants, the 
" Children Stones," are among the more important 
features of the cascade or waterfall. 

The Island Stones are perhaps more interesting 
still, as they are such important features in the land- 
scape. The "Elysian Isle," the "Master's Isle," 
and the " Guest's Isle " are the most favourite trio 
of islands, and are formed of combinations of stones. 
That of the "Elysian Isle," whose origin comes from 
China, is a combination of four stones suggesting 



AZALEAS IN A KYOTO GARDEN 



STONES ORNAMENTS AND FENCES 23 

the different members of a tortoise's body, and 
a pine-tree of carefully trained form should grow, 
as it were, out of the back of the animal. 
The " Master's Isle " has three principal stones 
the " Stone of Easy Rest," which speaks for 
itself; the "Stone of Amusement," suggesting the 
best spot for fishing ; and finally the " Seat Stone." 
The " Guest's Isle " has five important stones 
the " Guest-honouring Stone " ; the " Interviewing 
Stone " ; " Shoe-removing Stone," on which the 
clogs or sandals are changed ; the " Water-fowl 
Stone " ; and again the " Sea-gull Resting Stone." 
Among the Valley Stones many have a religious 
suggestion ; but under this head we find the 
important " Stone of Worship," a broad flat stone 
upon which one has to assume an attitude of 
veneration ; it should be in front of the garden, at 
the point from which the best view is obtained. 
The Water-basin Stones are not those which form 
the basin itself, but may merely serve as a base 
for the actual water receptacle, and either act as 
an embellishment, or perform certain functions 
in connection with the basin. The Tea-garden 
Stones have the "Kettle Stone," the "Candle- 
stick Stone," and many others suggestive of the 
tea-drinking ceremonies merely fanciful in their 



24 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

names, as these ceremonies invariably take place 
in a room, and therefore the stones are never 
used to fulfil their supposed functions. 

Finally we come to the Stepping- Stones, and 
the art of the Japanese in placing these stones 
cannot fail to strike any one who has any interest 
in the making of an ordinary rock garden. Their 
presence in all gardens in Japan is essential, 
as the use of turf being almost, if not entirely, 
unknown for paths and open spaces, it is re- 
placed by firmly beaten earth, or, for larger 
spaces, by fine sand carefully raked into patterns ; 
as footmarks, and more especially the marks of 
wooden clogs, would destroy the symmetry of 
these patterns, and in damp weather cut up the 
beaten earth, the use of stones for crossing the 
spaces or taking a walk round the garden is an 
absolute necessity. The alternative name for 
these stones is Flying Stones or Scattered Islands, 
which at once suggests how gracefully and artistic- 
ally they are placed. Nothing, as a rule, could 
be less artistic than the way stepping-stones are 
placed in English gardens ; they seem at once to 
bring to my mind visions of people trying to keep 
a steady gait, a feat which it is positively difficult 
to accomplish where the stones are laid in an 



STONES ORNAMENTS AND FENCES 25 

almost straight row. In commenting on this fact 
Mr. Conder says : 

It is not, therefore, surprising to find that the Japanese 
gardener follows carefully devised rules for the distribu- 
tion of " Stepping-Stones." He uses certain special stones 
and combinations, having definite shapes and approximate 
dimensions assigned to them, and he connects these with 
secondary blocks, the whole being arranged with a studied 
irregularity, both for comfort in walking and artistic grace. 
This is attained by the employment of ragged slabs of slate, 
schist, or flint, flat water- worn rocks or boulders, and hewn 
slabs or discs of granite or some other hard stone. The 
natural boulders are placed in zigzags of fours and threes, or 
sometimes in threes and twos, artificially hewn slabs, discs, 
or strips intervening. Though uniformity of tread is 
carefully calculated, the different sizes of the stones cause 
the intervals to vary considerably, and any apparent 
regularity is avoided. The distance between " Stepping- 
Stones" should not, however, be less than four inches, to 
allow of the intermediate spaces being kept clean. The 
smaller stones are of sufficient size for the foot to rest firmly 
upon, and should not, as a general rule, be higher than two 
inches from the soil. In ancient times it is said that 
" Stepping-Stones " for the Emperor's gardens were made six 
inches high, those for a Daimyo four inches, those for 
ordinary Samurai nearly three inches, and for common folk 
an inch and a half in height. The larger stones are 
intended as a rest for both feet, and two of them should 
never be used consecutively. In some cases several con- 
tinuous pathways formed of " Stepping-Stones " may be 
seen. When such walks branch off in two directions a 
larger and higher stone, called the " Step-dividing Stone," 
will be placed at the point of divergence. 



26 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

The stones leading to the house end usually in 
a high slab of granite which forms the step on to 
the verandah. It is no exaggeration to say that 
the Stepping-Stones of a well -planned garden, 
besides being of strict utility, are a great ornament 
to the garden. 

Probably the garden ornaments which will first 
attract the eye of the visitor are the stone lanterns, 
which are to be found in almost every garden, how- 
ever humble. These lanterns appear to be of purely 
Japanese origin ; no record of them is to be found 
in the history of Chinese gardens, though the 
introduction of miniature stone pagodas as garden 
ornaments came to Japan from China through 
the medium of Korea, for which reason they are 
still called " Korean Towers." The use of stone 
lanterns as a decoration for gardens seems to date 
from the days when the Professors of Tea-ceremonial 
turned their attention to landscape gardening. The 
custom of presenting votive offerings of lanterns in 
bronze or stone, large or small, plain or decorated, 
dates from early days, and no Buddhist temple or 
shrine is complete without its moss-grown lanterns 
adorning the courts and grounds. The correct 
placing of stone lanterns in the landscape garden is 
almost as complex as the placing of stones. They 



STONES ORNAMENTS AND FENCES 27 

should be used in combination with rocks, shrubs 
and trees, and water-basins. They have no use 
except as ornaments, as seldom, if ever, did I see 
one with a light in its fire-box except in temple 
grounds. They appeared to be almost more valued 
for their age than their form, as new ones can be 
easily procured of any desired shape ; but however 
ingenious the devices may be for imparting a look 
of age to new specimens, it is time, and time alone, 
which will bring that thick green canopy of velvet 
moss on their roof, and the granite will only become 
toned down to the coveted mellow hue by long 
exposure to the weather. 

Roughly speaking, garden lanterns are divided 
into two classes, the Standard and the Legged class, 
though many others of fanciful design may some- 
times be seen. The origin of the Standard class 
was known as the " Kasuga " shape, after a Shinto 
god to whom the well-known Nara temple is 
dedicated. Thousands of these Kasuga lanterns 
adorn the temple grounds, and the exact form is 
that of "a high cylindrical standard, with a small 
amulet in the centre, erected on a base and plinth 
of hexagonal plan, and supporting an hexagonal 
head crowned with a stone roof of double curve, 
having corner scrolls. The top is surmounted with 



28 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

a ball drawn to a point above. The head of the 
lantern, which is technically called the fire-box, 
is hollowed out, two of its faces having a square 
opening large enough to admit an oil lamp ; and 
the remaining four sides being carved respectively 
with representations of a stag, a doe, the sun, and 
the moon." These lanterns may vary in size, from 
six to as much as eighteen feet, and in this colossal 
size make a most imposing decoration for a large 
garden. There are several other designs which 
closely resemble the true Kasuga shape. Many 
others there are which still belong to the Standard 
class : some with the standards shortened and the 
heads elongated ; others with flat saucer-shaped 
caps or wide mushroom-shaped roofs in fact, an 
infinite variety ; and even in humble gardens rude 
specimens are seen built of natural mossy stones 
chosen to resemble as closely as possible the 
regulation form, and the fire-box made of wood. 
Another form of the Standard shape is suggestive 
of glorified lamp-posts ; these lanterns are mostly 
used in the approach to gardens or near the tea- 
rooms. Some of them are very quaint and quite 
rustic in appearance, being always made of wood. 
The square wooden lantern on a tall post is covered 
by either a wooden or thatched roof with wide- 



STONES ORNAMENTS AND FENCES 29 

projecting eaves. One of these is called the Who 
goes there? shape, and derives its original name 
from the fact that the dim light seen through its 
paper doors is only sufficient to enable a person to 
vaguely distinguish an approaching form ; and the 
Thatched Hut shape is in the form of a little 
thatched cottage. 

The class known as Legged lanterns have the 
alternative name of Snow Scene lanterns, as the 
very wide umbrella -shaped roof or cap, by which 
they are invariably covered, makes a broad surface 
for snow to rest upon. To the eye of a Japanese 
the effect of snow is almost more beautiful than 
any of their floral displays, and a snow-clad scene 
gives them infinite pleasure. The position of 
these lanterns in the garden should be partly 
overshadowed by the crooked branch of a spread- 
ing pine-tree, and certainly after a fall of snow 
the effect is one of great beauty. 

Ornamental bronze or iron lanterns are hung by 
a chain from the eaves of the verandah of either 
the principal house or tea-room, and, like the 
water-basin, are often very beautiful in design. 
Bronze Standard lanterns are never seen in land- 
scape gardens, only as votive offerings to temples ; 
but occasionally an iron lantern with no standard, 



30 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

only resting on low feet, may be placed on a flat 
stone near the water's edge, or nestling in the 
shadow of a group of evergreen shrubs. Near the 
larger Kasuga-shaped lanterns a stepping-stone (or 
even two, if the lantern be unusually large) should 
be placed higher than the surrounding ones ; these 
are called Lamp-lighting Stones, as by their aid the 
fire-box can be conveniently reached for lighting 
the lamp. 

A garden water-basin may be either ornamental 
in form, or merely a very plain hollo wed-out stone 
with a strictly utilitarian aspect. Its position in 
the garden is invariably the same, within easy reach 
of the verandah, so that the water can be reached 
by the wooden ladle which is left by the side of the 
basin ; and usually an ornamental fence of bamboo 
or rush- work separates it from that part of the 
house in its immediate neighbourhood. For a 
small residence, and where the basin is for practical 
use, the distance from the edge of the verandah 
should not be more than eighteen inches, and the 
height three to four feet ; but as the law of pro- 
portion applies to the water-basin just as it applies 
to the rest of the composition, the ornamental 
basin in front of a large house will have to be three 
or four feet away, and its height seven or eight feet 



STONES ORNAMENTS AND FENCES 31 

from the ground. In this case, in spite of the 
stepping-stones, the basin becomes merely an orna- 
ment, as it is out of reach for practical purposes, 
and even has to be protected by a separate decora- 
tive roof to keep off the rain. 

Each shape of basin has its own name, but 
perhaps one of the most popular forms is that of 
a natural rock of some unusual shape, hollowed 
at the top and covered with a delicate little wooden 
construction, like a tiny shed or temple, to keep 
the water cool and unpolluted. The Running- 
water Basins, as their name suggests, receive a 
stream of clear water by means of a little bamboo 
aqueduct, and in that case arrangement has to be 
made for the overflow of the water. 

As water is so essential in the composition of all 
landscape gardens, it is not surprising to find that 
the various styles of bridges which are employed 
to cross the lake or miniature torrents, and connect 
the tiny islands with the shore, are so graceful in 
design, and yet so simple, that they must certainly 
be classed as ornaments to the garden. The more 
elaborate bridges of stone or wood are only seen 
in large gardens. The semicircular arched bridge, 
of which the best-known example is in the grounds 
of the Kameido temple in Tokyo, where it forms a 



m FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

most picturesque object in connection with the 
wistaria-clad trellises, is of Chinese origin, and is 
supposed to suggest a full moon, as the reflection 
in the water below completes the circle. It was 
not these elaborate bridges that I admired most, 
but rather the simpler forms made out of a single 
slab of granite slightly carved, spanning a narrow 
channel, or, more imposing still, two large parallel 
blocks, overlapping in the middle of the stream, 
supported by a rock or by a wooden support. 

Very attractive, too, are the little bridges made 
of bundles of faggots laid on a wooden framework, 
covered with beaten earth, the edges formed of turf, 
bound with split bamboo, to prevent the soil from 
crumbling away. There is an infinite variety of 
these little fantastic bridges, and the cleverness 
displayed in the placing of them was a never- 
failing source of admiration to me. The common 
idea of a bridge being a means of crossing water in 
the shortest and most direct manner is by no means 
the Japanese conception of a bridge. Their fond- 
ness for water, and their love of lingering while 
crossing it, in order to feed and gaze at the gold- 
fish, or merely to enjoy the scene, has no doubt 
been responsible for the position of many of their 
bridges: one slab will connect the shore with a 



STONES ORNAMENTS AND FENCES 33 

little rocky islet, and then, instead of continuing in 
the most direct route to the opposite shore, as often 
as not the next slab will branch away in an entirely 
different direction, probably with the object of 
revealing a different view of the garden, or merely 
in order to prolong the pleasure of crossing the 
lake or stream. 

In most gardens, unless they are very diminutive 
in size, there is at least one Arbour or Resting 
Shed. It may consist merely of a thick rustic post 
supporting a thatched roof in the shape of a huge 
umbrella, with a few movable seats, or its pro- 
portions may assume those of a miniature house 
carefully finished in every detail. When they are 
of such an elaborate form they partake more of 
the nature of the Tea- ceremony room, with raised 
matted floors, plastered walls, and shoji on at least 
two sides of the room. The open structures in 
various shapes, with rustic thatched roofs, some 
fixed seats with a low railing or balustrade to lean 
against, are of more common form ; and if the 
Resting House is by the side of the lake, a project- 
ing verandah railed round is very popular, affording 
a comfortable resting-place from which to gaze at 
the scene. 

Decorative garden wells are picturesque objects, 

5 



34 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

with their diminutive roofs to protect the cord and 
pulley from the rain. As often as not they are 
purely for ornament, but even in this case the cord, 
pulley, and bracket should all look as antique as 
possible. A few stepping-stones should lead to it, 
and a stone lantern should be at hand with a 
suitable group of trees or shrubs. 

Finally we come to garden fences and gateways, 
which again are bewildering in their infinite variety 
and style. The Imperial gardens, and even less 
imposing domains, are not enclosed by fences, 
but by solid walls of clay and mud, plastered 
over, carrying a roof of ornamental tiles. Even 
fences made of natural wood all carry a projecting 
roof to afford protection from the rain, which 
adds very much to their picturesque effect. 
The humblest garden must have two entrances, 
which therefore necessitates two gateways the 
principal entrance, by which the guests enter, and 
the back entrance, called The Sweeping Opening 
from its practical use as a means of egress for 
the rubbish of the garden. This gate will be made 
of wood or bamboo, quite simple in style ; but the 
Entrance Gate is a far more important feature of 
the domain, and must be in character with the 
garden it leads to. The actual garden doors are of 



TIGER LILIES 






Jfcy 




STONES ORNAMENTS AND FENCES 35 

natural wood, their panels decorated with either 
carving or lattice-work, and set in a wooden frame 
which may vary considerably in style. Roofed 
gateways are very common, and the practice of 
hanging a wooden tablet between the lintels, with 
an inscription either describing the style of the 
garden or merely conveying a pretty sentiment 
in keeping with its character, is often seen. The 
fashion of planting a pine-tree of twisted and 
crooked shape just inside the gateway so that its 
leaning branches may be seen above the fence, is 
not only for artistic effect, but, the pine being an 
emblem of good luck, it is supposed to bring long 
life and happiness to the owner of the garden. 

Mr. Conder tells us that over a hundred 
drawings exist of ornamental Screen Fences, called 
by the Japanese Sleeve Fences. They may be used 
to screen off some portion of the garden, but are 
mainly ornamental, and are usually placed near the 
water-basin and a stone lantern. Without illustra- 
tions it is hopeless to attempt to describe their 
fanciful shapes, each again with a poetical name. 
The materials used in their construction consist 
chiefly of bamboo tubes of various sizes, rushes and 
reeds tied with dyed fibre, or even the tendrils of 
creepers or wistaria. In some of the simpler forms 



36 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

the patterns are only made by the placing of the 
bamboo joints ; but others are much more elaborate, 
and have panels of lattice -work formed of tied 
rushes or reeds, or openings of different shapes like 
windows. Mr. Conder gives a detailed description 
of an immense number of these fantastic screens, 
and one at least I must quote as an example. 

The Moon-entering Screen Fence is about seven feet high 
and three feet wide, having in the centre a circular hole, 
from which it receives its name. The vertical border on one 
side is broken off at the edge of the orifice, so that the circle 
is not complete, and this gives it the form of a three-quarter 
moon. Above the hole the bundles of reeds are arranged 
vertically, like bars, and below in a diagonal lattice- work, 
tied with hemp cords. 

Through the openings in these fences a branch 
of pine, or some creeper, is often brought through 
and trained with excellent effect. 

I feel I have said enough about the materials 
used for the construction of a landscape garden, 
to convey to the mind of the reader something of 
the difficulties which surround the correct combina- 
tion of these materials, and sufficient to make 
any one realise that the making of a Japanese 
garden is a true art, which it is not surprising 
that it is impossible for a foreigner to imitate, 



STONES ORNAMENTS AND FENCES 37 

hence the lamentable failure of the so-called 
"Japanese gardens " which it has been the fashion- 
of late years to try and make in England 
frequently by persons who have never even seen 
one of the gardens of Japan. The owner of 
probably the best of these English "Japanese 
gardens" was showing his garden, which was the 
apple of his eye, to a Japanese, who with instinctive 
politeness was full of admiration, but had failed to 
recognise the fact that it was meant to be a true 
landscape garden of his own country, and therefore 
exclaimed, " It is very beautiful ; we have nothing 
at all like it in Japan ! " 



CHAPTER III 

LANDSCAPE GARDENS 

HAVING made some attempt to elucidate the 
mysterious and wonderful construction of Japanese 
gardens, I feel the reader will expect to learn some- 
thing of their effect as a whole when completed. 
Unfortunately many of the finest specimens of 
landscape gardens, the old Daimyos' gardens in 
Tokyo, have been swept away to make room for 
foreign houses, factories, and breweries, and no trace 
of them remains ; old drawings or photographs 
alone tell of their departed glories. Probably the 
largest of these gardens which still remains entire 
is the Koraku-en, or Arsenal Garden, as it is more 
commonly called. It is now empty and deserted, 
and seems only filled with sadness, its groves 
recalling days gone by, when succeeding Daimyos 
entertained their friends in regal pomp, and the 
sound of revelry broke the silence of the woods ; 

38 



LANDSCAPE GARDENS 39 

to-day only the incessant sound of metal hammering 
metal breaks the silence of the glades, and the^ 
sound of explosions from the Arsenal near by 
might well rouse the dead. The garden covers a 
large extent of ground, and is an example of a 
scheme in which many separate scenes were skilfully 
worked together to form a perfect whole. Its 
fame dates from early in the seventeenth century, 
when the Daimyo of Mito, who was a great patron 
of landscape gardening, laid out the grounds. The 
fact that they are remarkable for many Chinese 
characteristics is not surprising, when we learn that 
the Shogun lyemitsu took an interest in the work, 
and lent the aid of a great Chinese artist called 
Shunseu, who completed the scheme. A semi- 
circular stone bridge of Chinese design, called a Full- 
moon Bridge, spans a stretch of water in which, in 
the scorching heat of August mornings, the great 
buds of white lotus flowers will crack and slowly 
open, their giant leaves almost hiding the bridge ; 
this important feature of the garden is called Seiko 
Kutsumi, after a famous lotus lake in China. The 
island in the lake is the Elysian Isle of Chinese 
fame, and formerly was connected with the shore 
by a long wooden bridge, which has long since 
disappeared ; but the path wanders on, past the 



40 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

rocky shore, skirting the headland and high wooded 
promontory, through the dense gloom of a forest, 
and by the time I had made a complete tour of 
this garden I felt as though I had paid a flying 
visit to half Japan. 

There was an avenue of cherry-trees to recall 
the avenues of Koganei ; the river Tatsuda in 
miniature, its banks clothed with maples and other 
reddening trees, to give colour to the garden in 
autumn, when the setting sun will seem to light 
the torch and set all the trees ablaze ; there also 
is the Oi-gawa or Rapid River with its wide pebble- 
strewn bed, down which a rapid-flowing stream is 
brought; then we are transported to scenes in 
China ; and beyond, again, the wanderer is reminded 
of the scenery of Yatsuhashi, where one of the 
eight bridges crosses in zigzag fashion a marshy 
swamp which in the month of June is a mass of 
irises, great gorgeous blossoms of every conceivable 
shade of lilac and purple, completely hiding their 
foliage ; then this little valley becomes a stream of 
colour and recalls the more extensive glories of 
Hori-kiri. 

Perhaps most ingenious of all is that part of 
the garden where the cone of Fuji-yama appears, 
snow-capped in May, as it is densely planted with 



AN OLD GARDEN 



LANDSCAPE GARDENS 41 

white azaleas. Many other scenes there were tiny 
shrines built in imitation of great temples, cascades 
and waterfalls named after other celebrated falls, 
rare rocks, moss-grown lanterns, bridges of all 
designs ; in fact, the garden seemed a perfect 
treasure-house, and I felt glad that this one garden 
has escaped the hand of the destroyer and is left 
entire, a masterpiece of conception and execution. 

Of another Tokyo garden which unfortunately 
has not been left untouched, as it is shorn of half 
its former glories, a glaring red -brick brewery 
covering half the area of the beautiful grounds 
formerly known as Satake-no-niwa only a portion 
remains, though a very lovely portion, and as 
it seems complete in itself it is still worth a 
visit. Unlike the Koraku-en, the Satake Garden 
was a rather artificial example of hill gardening, 
more open, with no dense groves, but essentially a 
hill and water garden. The large lake remains, 
and, like most of the gardens in the Honjo district 
of Tokyo, its waters are salt and tidal, being 
connected with the neighbouring river Sumida. 
Thus at high and low tide the shores of the lake 
present a very different aspect; pebbly bays can 
only be crossed by stepping-stones at high tide, and 
even some of the stone lanterns by the water's edge 



42 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

have their standards half submerged. The hills 
are closely planted with evergreen bushes and 
shrubs, and most of the year the garden is all grey 
and green ; the island is reached by a grey stone 
bridge formed of two slabs of granite of giant 
proportions, the grey lanterns stand among shrubs, 
cut into rounded form, and the mossy rocks and 
boulders have still more neutral tones ; so it is only 
in spring when Nature asserts herself, and no 
gardener can prevent the young leaves of the 
maples being a variety of vivid colouring, and the 
grey rounded azalea bushes become perfect balls 
of scarlet, rosy-pink and white blossoms, that the 
garden has any colour in it. But to the mind of 
the Japanese all sense of repose and quiet charm 
would be gone if the eye were always worried by 
a distracting mass of colour ; so even if flowers 
were grown in these more extensive gardens they 
had a special part of the grounds set apart for their 
culture. In one corner of the lake a piece of 
swampy ground was thickly planted with irises and 
water-plants, and a wistaria trellis overhung the 
lake, otherwise no flowers entered into the scheme ; 
but it was a perfect specimen of the typical 
Japanese arrangement of garden hills planted with 
rounded bushes and adorned with lanterns. 



LANDSCAPE GARDENS 43 

A magnificent example of a modern landscape 
garden is that belonging to Baron Iwasaki, mad< 
some forty years ago. The venerable pine-trees 
supported by stout props overhanging the lake are 
suggestive of countless ages ; but in this garden old 
trees of gnarled and twisted growth, rare rocks, and 
immense boulders were collected from all parts of 
the empire, regardless of expense, and brought 
together to ensure the success of the scheme. 
The grounds cover many acres, the one blot in 
the landscape being the large red-brick foreign 
house ; but luckily the most lovely part of the 
garden is laid out in front of the perfect specimen 
of a Japanese gentleman's house, where the 
verandah of the cool matted rooms looks over a 
scene of indescribable beauty. The large lake is 
cleverly divided, and the portion of the garden in 
front of the foreign house is left behind ; groves of 
evergreen trees screen the house the one jarring 
note ; and here the lake becomes the lagoon of 
Matsu-shima, tiny pine-clad islets rise from the 
water, and in the distance rises the cone of Fuji 
from an undulating plain of close-mown turf and 
groups of dwarfed pines. Here again flowers have 
no official existence ; azaleas there are in profusion, 
but they are only introduced as shrubs; so the 



44 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

garden is not a flower garden, but a true landscape 
garden the reproduction in miniature of natural 
scenery. The lanterns and bridges near the foreign 
house are of immense size, carrying out the law of 
proportion ; the rocks and boulders are large to 
correspond, and the whole effect is one of great 
breadth; only near the tea-house and the main 
Japanese house does the garden become more 
finished in style and on a smaller scale. The 
balcony overhangs the rocky edge of the tidal 
lake ; each rock has its history and its especial 
place; but the laws which have governed the 
making of such a garden are laws drawn up 
by great artists, there is no false note, even the 
grouping of the reeds and irises by the water's 
edge has been planned by a master hand, so the 
picture remains graven on one's memory as that 
of an ideal pleasaunce for leisure and repose. 

In Kyoto there still remain the gardens of the 
Gold and Silver Pavilions gardens of much older 
date, the splendour of their pavilions dimmed by 
age, more especially in the case of Kinkakuji, 
the Golden Pavilion. Mr. Conder says, "Long 
neglect has converted what was once an elaborate 
artificial landscape into a wild natural scene of 
great beauty." The little pine-clad islets remain, 



LANDSCAPE GARDENS 45 

but they are now island wildernesses ; the trees 
have partially resumed their normal shapes ; great 
leaning pines overhang the shores of the Mirror 
Ocean, representing the Sea of Japan, and its three 
islands suggesting the Empire of the Mikado. It 
was in the fourteenth century that this quiet spot 
became the so-called retreat of the scheming 
Yoshimitsu, who, pretending to have resigned 
the Shogunate in favour of his son, here lived in 
the garb of a monk, but in reality directing the 
affairs of State. The two-storied Pavilion itself, 
seen reflected in the Mirror Ocean, is possibly 
more picturesque in decay than it was in the 
days of its splendour ; the gilding from which it 
takes its name has been partially restored ; it 
is backed by the wooded hill fancifully called 
the Silken Canopy or Silk Hat Mountain, from 
the fact that the ex-Mikado Uda ordered it to be 
covered with white silk on a scorching summer's 
day, in order that his eyes might enjoy the 
sensation of gazing on a cool, snow-covered scene. 
To this day the garden of Kinkakuji under a light 
canopy of snow is one of the favourite sights of 
the people of Kyoto. In days gone by there were 
smaller arbours in which the Shogun, wearied 
with his walk among the groves of the Silk Hat 



46 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

Mountain, would rest, and compare the scene 
which the g Ten was intended to represent, to the 
real Sea of Japan, whence the name of one of the 
arbours, The House of the Sound of the Seashore. 

To the north-east of Kyoto, nestling among the 
woods that clothe the lower hills of Hiei-san, lie 
the grounds of Ginkakuji or the Silver Pavilion. 
In imitation of his predecessor Yoshimitsu, the 
Shogun Yoshimasa after his abdication retired from 
the affairs of the world, built himself a country 
house with grounds of vast extent, even with 
despotic impatience sweeping away a temple 
because it interfered with his plans, though we 
are told he was filled with remorse, and afterwards 
restored it at great expense. The two-storied 
Pavilion was partly copied from its rival, the 
Golden Pavilion, though it never seems to have 
attained to the same splendour ; but here the ex- 
Shogun and his boon companions, the philosopher 
Soami and Shuko the Nara priest, held their 
aesthetic revels. They may be said to have laid 
down the laws which raised the tea-ceremonial to 
the rank of a fine art. Mr. Farrar, in writing of 
it, says : 

It has its prescribed ritual of appalling rigidity, this tea- 
ceremony, invented and elaborated by a pious monk to 



A TOKYO GARDEN 



LANDSCAPE GARDENS 47 

distract a young and giddy Shogun from his debaucheries. 
It was taken up as a political weapon by the House of 
Tokugawa, and crystallised into its present adamantine 
form, becoming a social engine of the most powerful nature 
in its power of bringing all the nobles together. Here, 
then, is one of its temples where the rites were celebrated 
in their due ordinance, with their prescribed compliments, 
obeisances, and admiring exclamations over the prescribed 
flower, arranged in the prescribed spot, and indicated by the 
host in the prescribed words, to be followed by the invari- 
able litany of conversation and courtesy over the cup of tea 
to be made, handed, accepted, and drunk all with remarks 
and gestures and smiles of ancestral rubric. 

Outside any tea-house built in accordance with 
these prescribed regulations one sees "a row of 
stepping-stones, finishing beneath a little ceil-de- 
bceuf in the wall above, by which the visitors had 
to enter, ignoring the thoroughly practical door. 
They approached, making the due bows upon each 
stone, and at last their host was to fish them in 
through the window." 

Another ceremony inaugurated within these 
precincts was the ceremonial of " incense sniffing," 
to our minds merely an innocent, childish game, 
the winner being the person possessing the keenest 
sense of smell, as the pastime consisted of five or 
more different kinds of incense being burnt, sniffed, 
given poetical names, then mixed up and sniffed 



48 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

again, and the man who guesses best the names 
of the various kinds, is the winner. The boxes 
which contained the incense, the burners in which 
it was burnt, were all works of art, and the same 
grave etiquette which governed the tea-ceremonial 
governed these incense -sniffing parties, in which 
poets, writers, priests, philosophers, Daimyos, 
Shoguns, the greatest and most learned in the 
land, took part. We can only gaze with wonder 
and perplexity not hoping to understand at a 
"nation's intellect going off on such devious 
tracks as this incense -sniffing and the still more 
intricate tea-ceremonies, and on bouquets arranged 
philosophically, and gardens representing the 
cardinal virtues. Such strict rules, such grave 
faces, such endless terminologies, so much ado 
about nothing 1 " (Professor Chamberlain's Things 
Japanese.) 

To return to the garden proper, laid out with 
great elaboration by Soami. Although it is 
now much neglected, the trees are not kept 
trimmed according to the rigid laws, their stems 
are lichen -clad, and Nature has tried to re- 
assert herself over art, yet the beauty of the 
spot is great. The lake, of ingenious form, backed 
on the north side by the thickly pine-clad hills 



LANDSCAPE GARDENS 49 

and to the west by the regulation grove of maples, 
is an admirable example of the arrangement of^ 
garden stones, its shores being rich in rare and 
precious rocks, each with its characteristic name. 
One of the principal stones lying in the lake is the 
stone of Ecstatic Contemplation ; the little bridge 
which divides the lake is the Bridge of the Pillar 
of the Immortals ; the water of the cascade 
which fills the lake, being of exceptional purity, 
is called the Moon-washing Fountain. In the 
foreground of many of these older gardens was 
an open space covered with white sand, carefully 
raked into ornamental patterns, and here is a 
large mound of the sand suggestive of a mammoth 
sugar-loaf with a flattened top, called the Silver 
Sand Platform, the smaller one of the same shape 
being the Mound facing the Moon ; on these sat 
Yoshimasa and his favourites, indulging in another 
favourite pastime of moon-gazing, to our prosaic 
minds merely another elaborately conceived method 
of killing time. I know no garden in Japan which 
seemed to take one back so far into the world of 
the Old Japan as this little garden of Ginkakuji, 
and no more peaceful spot to sit and enjoy the 
reddening maple leaves on a bright evening in late 

autumn, when there is a touch of sadness in the 

7 



50 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

air, in keeping with the departed glories of the 
Pavilion and the fast-fading beauties of the trees. 

Many of the smaller and most interesting 
gardens in Japan are those attached to tea-houses 
or small suburban houses, showing, as they do, the 
ingenuity and resource of the landscape gardener 
in making a perfect garden of any size, from ten 
acres to half an acre, or only a few square yards. 
Among tea-house gardens, that attached to the 
Raku-raku-tei at Hikone can hardly be counted, as 
it was formerly the garden of a great Daimyo and 
is one of the finest gardens in the country. The 
numerous little summer-houses built out on piles 
in the lake have been erected for the entertain- 
ment of the guests of the tea-house, a gathering 
place for the most dite, but otherwise the garden 
remains unchanged ; the paths which wind round 
the lake, across the bridges, past the Stone of 
Worship, from where the beauties of the garden 
may be enjoyed to best advantage, are the same 
paths which the feet of successive Daimyos trod 
in the feudal days of old. 

It is rather to the Hira-niwa, or Flat Gardens, 
that 1 allude, made in the small enclosures at the 
back of private houses or tea-houses in towns, 
or even in the actual courts, no space being 



LANDSCAPE GARDENS 51 

apparently too small for the construction of one 
of these little fresh-looking and artistic gardens. 
How superior to the dusty, neglected back garden 
or court of a European house, too often only a 
piece of waste ground where the rubbish of the 
house accumulates, the space being condemned as 
too small for a garden. I can recall visions of 
many a tiny court no more than twenty feet square, 
within whose limits were compressed a liliputian 
pond, fed with clear water by the overflow of the 
water -basin ; a dwarf pine, the soul of every 
Japanese garden, which in conjunction with a few 
small evergreen shrubs sheltered a moss-grown 
lantern. Some small rocks and a few foliage or 
water plants in a tuft by the water's edge, were the 
sole materials used for the making of this court- 
garden. Stepping-stones, let into the beaten earth, 
led from the step of the verandah to the edge of 
the pond, ending in one stone larger than the rest, 
suggesting the Stone of Worship, or the Stone of 
Amusement, in case there should be any goldfish in 
the pond. As these little courts are kept profusely 
watered, being sprinkled out of a wooden ladle 
several times a day in the hottest days of summer, 
the effect is always damp and cool, the mossy 
stones are always fresh and green, however fierce 



52 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

the heat may be. The variety in the actual form 
of these gardens seemed infinite ; in some the pond 
was omitted, and the suggestion of water and 
dampness came from the rustic garden well or the 
ornamental water-basin, behind which always 
stands a portion of screen -fencing of elaborate 
design. When the area is not quite so limited, 
bridges will be introduced to cross the pond, possibly 
consisting only of a single stone slab supported on 
a natural piece of rock, or a granite bridge slightly 
curved in form, or perhaps only the suggestion of 
a bridge, formed of a branch of juniper or some flat 
close-growing evergreen trained in a curve across 
the water. According to the size of the ground, 
so these gardens will increase in elaboration of 
their design, and many an enclosure at the back of 
a merchant's house in Kyoto or Osaka has been 
transformed into a perfect specimen of Hira-niwa. 
One I recall which always gave me as much 
pleasure as the most extensive landscape garden in 
the country. The lake was of the prescribed form 
known as the Running Water shape, fed by a fast- 
flowing stream which came in at the far end of the 
garden over the regulation Cascade Stones ; a garden 
arbour of elaborate form overlooked the lake, in 
which stood the " Elysian Isle " with its pine-tree 



A LANDSCAPE GARDEN 



LANDSCAPE GARDENS 53 

growing out of the rock, and a few azalea bushes 
filling the interstices of the stone, forming a most 
attractive feature of ' the garden ; banks there were 
planted with more azaleas ; pines, kept dwarfed to 
about two feet in height, grew out of cushions of 
thick moss; bridges crossed and re -crossed the 
stream; stepping-stones, discs, and label stones 
guided our feet as we wandered about at leisure. 
There were the two garden entrances, and even 
the back entrance, or Sweeping Opening, was a 
thing of beauty. Every detail of this garden had 
been first carefully thought out, and then as care- 
fully carried into execution. 

The landscape gardener in Japan is no gardener 
in the sense that we regard a gardener in the West 

a cultivator of flowers : he is a garden artist ; he 

-" 

leaves none of his effects to chance ; so carefully 
are his plans made that before the first sod of the 
new garden * has been turned, he knows exactly 
how the garden will look when completed. He 
will see in his mind's eye the appointed place for 
every tree, every stone, which is to be used in its 
composition. I could not help thinking that if 
more thought were given to the planning of our 
English gardens there might be something more 
complete and satisfying to the eye than the 



54 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

meaningless gardens often laid out by the owner 
of the house, who by the wildest stretch of 
imagination could not be called a garden artist 
which too often surround our English homes. Our 
gardens are made beautiful in summer by the 
wealth and profusion of their flowers ; but when 
the winter comes and the beds are shorn of their 
summer glories, the deficiencies of the plan of the 
garden are laid bare, and might well give us food 
for thought through the long winter months. 



CHAPTER IV 

NURSERY GARDENS DWARF TREES AND 
HACHI-NIWA 

A NURSERY garden in Japan may be called a 
revelation in the art of pruning. A singular idea 
exists in the minds of many people, that all the 
trees in Japan are like the dwarf specimens they 
have occasionally seen in England on a nursery- 
man's stand at a flower-show, and frequently they 
display surprise, not unmixed with incredulity, 
when assured that such is not the case. I would 
recommend those unbelievers to take a walk in the 
cryptomeria avenues at Nikko, among the camphor 
groves of Atami, or to wander through the pine- 
woods which clothe the hillsides above Kyoto, when 
they would see for themselves the magnificence 
of the trees, untouched by the pruning knife of 
the gardener. The Japanese bestow as much time 
and care on the trees in their gardens as the 

55 



56 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

Western gardener would give to his choicest flowers. 
The gardener's ideal tree is not the ordinary tree of 
the forest, but the abnormal specimen which age 
and weather have twisted and bent into quaint 
and unusual shapes. Here, in the nursery garden, 
we shall find specimen trees ; old trees it is true, 
but trees giving proof that art has had to improve 
upon nature, as scarcely a single tree in the whole 
collection waiting, possibly, to transform the new 
garden of a nouveau riche into an ancestral home 
will have been allowed to follow its own inclination 
of growth and shape. 

The pine-tree is generally chosen as the subject 
for the operating knife, and is cut and trained into 
all manner of shapes ; an umbrella made of a single 
tree of Pinus densiflora trained on a framework 
of light bamboo, or a junk of perfect form, the 
reward of years of patience, will be waiting until it 
is required to be the chief feature in a landscape 
garden. The curiously twisted appearance char- 
acteristic of a Japanese pine-tree, in gardens and 
temple grounds, is achieved by a clever system of 
pruning, and gives the trees a stunted and venerable 
appearance, which they would otherwise not attain , 
for years. The leading shoot of each branch and 
most of the side ones are removed, giving the branch 



NURSERY GARDENS 57 

a new direction, sometimes at right angles to the 
previous year's growth. This operation is repeated 
every year, and the branches thinned out, so that 
every line of the stems can be followed. Another 
favourite and very effective way of training a pine, 
is to carry a long branch out over a stream or pond, 
and by skilful training and cutting to give it the 
direction that, after a few years' growth, will have 
become natural to it, and the whole strength of 
the tree will seem concentrated in that one branch. 
These trees should be placed by the water's edge 
or on the slope of a hill, and are often planted 
leaning at all manner of angles. The gardener is 
never sparing in his use of stout bamboo props, 
which to our Western ideas would appear un- 
sightly. 

It is not in these trees, interesting as they always 
are, that the admiration of the visitor to a Japanese 
nursery garden will be centred ; for how few 
foreigners remain long enough in the country, or 
take sufficient interest in their temporary home, 
to construct a new garden round it ; yet how easy 
it seems to accomplish, when old gnarled trees are 
ready grown. It would appear as though a few 
hours' planning and plotting, a few stones and trees, 
a few days' work for a few coolies, are all that 



58 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

is required, and the thing would be done; but 
remember success depends upon the plan, one false 
touch would set the whole conception ajar, so woe 
betide the foreigner if he were to attempt to 
interfere with the making of his garden ; left to 
himself a Japanese is never guilty of that one false 
touch. 

Arranged in rows on wooden platforms will be 
the object of our visit to the nursery garden the 
dwarf trees whose fame has spread throughout 
the world, and who seem to share with the cherry 
blossom the floral fame of Japan. When first I 
visited the country I went prepared to be dis- 
appointed with the dwarf trees ; I had seen inferior 
specimens shipped to Europe no doubt because of 
their inferiority, pining away a lingering life in a 
climate unsuited to them, deprived of all care and 
attention ; for an idea prevailed in England when 
they were first imported, that these tiny trees, the 
result of years of patient training, required no 
water, and either no fresh air or else were equally 
indifferent to the fiery rays of the summer suns or 
the icy blasts of the winter winds. A visit to a 
garden in their native country will soon reveal that 
such is not the case. The trees are not coddled, it is 
true, but the proper allowance of water, especially 



NURSERY GARDENS 59 

in their growing season, is most important, and they 
are impatient of a draught ; though many seem to 
stand the full rays of the sun, the best specimens 
had generally some light canvas or bamboo blinds, 
arranged so that they could be drawn over the 
stands during the hottest hours of the scorching 
summer days. I have heard these trees described 
as tortured trees ; to me, good specimens never 
gave that impression, their charm took possession 
of me, and a grand old pine or juniper whose 
gnarled and twisted trunk suggested a giant of the 
forest, and yet was under three feet in height, 
standing in a soft-coloured porcelain bowl, gave me 
infinite pleasure. I could see no fault in them, 
they are completely satisfying and give a strange 
feeling of repose. 

Their variety is infinite, from six inches in 
height to as many feet; pines, junipers, thujas, 
maples, larch, willows, and, among the flowering 
trees, pink and white plum, single and double 
cherries, tiny peach-trees, smothered by their 
blossoms, pyrus trained in fantastic shapes, all 
will be there in bewildering choice of beauty. 
I have heard of a single treasure, a weeping 
willow, only six inches in height, the reward of 
years of patience, for which the price of 7000 yen 



60 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

(700) was paid ; probably to our eyes it would 
have had no more value than a humble " dwarf " 
which, in consequence of some slight imperfection, 
would not fetch more than sevenpence. In a 
perfect specimen not only each branch, but each 
twig and each leaf, must conform absolutely in 
direction and proportion to the same unbending 
laws which govern this art, as well as its sister arts 
of landscape gardening and flower arrangement 
laws which a writer says were " the iron rules laid 
down by the canons of taste in the days when 
lyeyasu Tokugawa paralysed into an adamantine 
immobility the whole artistic and intellectual life 
of the country." So in every garden there will be 
failures as perfect works of art, but beautiful in our 
eyes, which fail to see any difference between the 
perfect specimen with its boughs bent down by the 
weight of the laws which have trained it and priced 
it at some hundred yen, or the "failure" by its 
side, beautiful and wonderful, with all its imperfec- 
tions an exquisite and dainty thing, priced at as 
many pence. 

Perhaps one of the best opportunities for buy- 
ing these imperfect trees, which are still admired 
and readily bought by the Japanese themselves, 
though not to be treasured as works of art, is at 



THE OLD WISTARIA 



NURSERY GARDENS 61 

the sales which take place at night in the streets 
of Kyoto on certain days of the month. The 
plants are arranged on stalls down each side of a 
narrow street, and the intending purchaser has to 
fight his way through a dense crowd to choose his 
plants. No lover of dwarf trees should miss 
attending one of these sales, and perhaps the 
uncertainty as to whether the plant is in good 
health, or the bowl containing it is broken, adds 
to the excitement of bargaining with the stall- 
holder ; every Japanese loves a bargain, and the 
transaction is eagerly watched by the crowd, and 
the " foreign devil " will gain their admiration if he 
can hold his own against the rapacity of the sales- 
man. As the plants vary in price, from a few sen 
to two or three yen, one can afford to carry off a 
sufficient number to ensure having some, at least, 
that will be a reward for one's patience. On the 
1st of April the best night-market of the year is 
held. The stalls will be covered with tempting 
little flowering trees, their buds almost bursting and 
full of promise of lovely blossoms to come sturdy 
little peach-trees, their branches thickly covered 
with soft velvet buds just tinged with pink ; droop- 
ing cherries wreathed with red-brown buds ; slender 
pyrus trained into wonderful twisted shapes ; little 



62 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

groves of maple-trees, their scarlet or bronze leaves 
just unfurling, or miniature forests of larch, shading 
mossy ravines with rivers of white sand ; ancient 
pine-trees spreading their branches over rocky 
precipices rising from a bed of pebbles; sweet- 
scented daphnes, golden -flowered forsythias, and 
early azaleas in porcelain dishes, which are round 
or oval, square, shallow or deep, and of every shade, 
from white, through soft greys arid blues to a deep 
green. Every plant is a picture in itself, and the 
difficulty lies in deciding, not which to buy, but 
which one can bring oneself to leave behind. 

Siebold, who visited Japan and wrote the Flora 
Japonica upwards of sixty years ago, thus describes 
the dwarf trees : 

The Japanese have an incredible fondness for dwarf trees, 
and with reference to this the cultivation of the Ume, or 
Plum, is one of the most general and lucrative employments 
of the country. Such plants are increased by in-arching, 
and by this means specimens are obtained which have the 
peculiar habit of the Weeping Willow. A nurseryman 
offered me for sale in 1826 a plant in flower which was 
scarcely three inches high ; this chef cFceuvre of gardening 
was grown in a little lacquered box of three tiers, similar 
to those filled with drugs which the Japanese carry in their 
belts ; in the upper tier was this Ume, in the second row 
a little Spruce Fir, and at the lowest a Bamboo scarcely an 
inch and a half high. 



NURSERY GARDENS 63 

The Japanese still love their dwarf trees as 
much as they did in the days of Siebold, and the 
trade in them has received additional impetus of 
late years, as great numbers are exported annually 
to Europe and the United States, where I fear 
they are not treasured as works of art, but are only 
regarded as curiosities. 

At different seasons of the year the nursery 
gardens will be gay with the display of some 
especial flower. Early in May the gaudy-coloured 
curtains and paper lanterns at the gates will 
announce, in the bold black lettering which is one 
of the chief ornaments of the country, that a 
special exhibition of azaleas is being held. It is 
scarcely conceivable that any plants can bear so 
many blossoms as do these stiff and prim little 
azalea-trees ; the individual blooms are small, but 
their serried ranks form one dense even mass, flat 
as a table, for no straggling branches are allowed in 
these perfectly grown plants. Every shade is there, 
an incredible blaze of colour, all the plants the same 
shape, all practically the same size, and all in the 
same shaped pots ; the only variety being in the 
delicate hue of the faience pots or the vivid 
colouring of the blossoms. The pots are arranged 
in rows or stages under the blue and white checked 



fj* FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

roofing, which seems peculiarly to belong to flower 
exhibitions ; the effect cannot be said to be 
artistic, but there is something very attractive 
about the little trees, which are visited by the 
same crowd of sight-seers, who seem to spend their 
days in "flower-viewing" and quiet feasting on 
the matted benches, the latter being inseparable 
from these flower resorts. 

Other flower exhibitions will follow in their 
turn great flaunting paeonies, brought with loving 
care from the gardens near Osaka ; and then the 
last and most treasured flower of all, the chrysan- 
themum. Again the little matted or chess-board 
roof will be brought into requisition, and an un- 
ceasing throng of visitors will discuss the merits of 
the last new variety, or of a plant more perfectly 
grown than its neighbour. Here, too, I saw plants 
of single chrysanthemums, like great soft pink 
daisies, grown in tall narrow porcelain pots, grey- 
blue in colour ; left untrained and unsupported the 
main stem fell over the side of the pot, and the 
whole plant hung down with natural grace; the 
effect was charming, and I could not help thinking 
might easily be accomplished in any garden. 

At the end of the year may also be seen 
the dishes being prepared with a combination of 



NURSERY GARDENS 65 

plum, bamboo, and pine which will be found on 
the tokonoma of almost every house throughout 
the empire at the New Year, bringing good luck 
and long life to the inmates. Sometimes the 
combination will be merely a flower arrangement, 
but usually it is of a more lasting nature, and a 
little plum-tree covered with soft pink buds, a tiny 
gnarled old pine, and a small plant of bamboo, will 
be firmly planted in the dish, a rock and a few 
stones may be added for effect, and the ground 
mossed over to suggest great age. Occasionally a 
clump of some everlasting flower, such as Adonis 
amurensis, is used instead of the plum. 

It is probably in the nursery garden that the 
traveller will first see one of the toy gardens called 
HacU-niwa dish gardens where a perfect land- 
scape and a well-known scene is accurately re- 
presented within the limited area of a shallow 
china dish, varying in size from six inches in 
length to two feet. Here we have another 
art, for the making of Hachi-niwa is almost as 
much trammelled by rules and conventions as its 
fellow-arts of flower arrangement and landscape 
gardening, and the same unbending law of pro- 
portion is the first consideration. Just as the 
landscape gardener chooses the scene which his 



66 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

garden is to represent, in proportion to the size of 
the ground which the future garden is intended to 
cover, so the maker of a Hachi-niwa must choose 
his scene in proportion to the size of his dish ; or, as 
his choice of dishes may be infinite, varying from a 
few inches upwards, and being in shape round or 
oval, long and narrow, with square or rounded ends ; 
so having decided on his landscape, he may then 
choose his dish. As I had been much attracted by 
these little miniature gardens, each in itself a perfect 
picture, I determined to learn something of the 
manner of their construction and to try and grasp a 
few of the principles of the art. I had heard of a 
gardener in Kyoto who was a great master in the art, 
a disciple and pupil of one of the Tokyo professors, 
who might tell me what I wished to learn. On 
my first visit to his house he looked incredulous 
at the idea of a foreigner wishing to study the art 
of Hachi-niwa. Thinking I could only wish to 
purchase a ready-made garden to carry off as a 
curiosity, he appeared decidedly reserved, and 
reluctant to impart any information on the subject 
of their composition. A friend who accompanied 
me, and was more eloquent in his language than I 
was, assured him that I was in earnest not merely 
a passer-by, but one who had already spent many 



NURSERY GARDENS 67 

months in his country ; then his interest awoke, 
and he asked me to return the next day, when he 
would have all the materials prepared and I could 
choose my own subject. 

Many a happy hour did I spend making these 
little gardens and learning something of their 
history. A certain paraphernalia is necessary for 
the construction of these miniature landscapes, and 
the requisite materials include a supply of moss of 
every variety close cushions of moss to form the 
mountains, flat spreading moss to clothe the rocks, 
white lichened moss to carpet the ground beneath 
the venerable pine-trees, which in themselves are 
especially grown and dwarfed, till at the age of 
four or five years they will only have attained the 
imposing height of as many inches; leaning and 
bent pines for the scenery of Matsushima or 
the garden of Kinkakuji, groves of tiny maples 
for Arashiyama, and pigmy trees of all descriptions. 
Finally, there are microscopic toys to give life to 
the scene perfect little temples and shrines, in 
exact imitation of the originals, modelled out of the 
composition that is used for pottery, baked first in 
their natural colour, then coloured when necessary 
and baked again ; coolies, pedlars, pilgrims in end- 
less variety, less than an inch in height ; bridges, 



68 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

lanterns, torii, boats, junks, rafts, mills, thatch- 
roofed cottages everything, in fact, that is necessary 
in the making of a landscape, down to break- 
waters for the rivers, made like tiny bamboo cages 
filled with stones, such as exist at every turn of 
rivers like the Fuji-kawa. The necessary imple- 
ments consisted of chop-sticks, the use of which is 
an art in itself, a trowel suggesting a doll's mason's 
trowel, a tiny flat-iron for smoothing the surface of 
the sand, besides diminutive scoops for holding only 
a few grains of sand, a pair of enlarged forceps for 
placing the moss, little fairy brooms about two 
inches long to sweep away sand which may have got 
out of place, and a sieve of like dimensions to sift 
white powder for a snow scene, and, finally, a fine 
water sprayer to keep the moss damp and fresh. 

When the selection of the dish has been made 
the regulation kind being of white or mottled 
blue china, in size twelve inches by eight, or 
eighteen inches by twelve, about one inch deep 
and the scene decided upon, damp sifted earth 
will form the mountains and the foundations 
in which the rocks are embedded; the hills are 
carefully carved and moulded into perfect shape ; 
crevasses, down which a torrent of white sand will 
flow, to represent a river, or a mountain road 



AZALEAS, KYOTO 



NURSERY GARDENS 69 

running between a gorge of terrific rocks, are 
marked out. Then will come the firm planting 
of the stones, toy temples, houses, or bridges ; the 
position of the trees is carefully weighed and con- 
sidered ; and last of all comes the sand sand of a 
deep grey colour for deep water, lighter in colour 
for the shallows, yellowish sand for the ground or 
roads, snow-white granite chips for water racing 
down from the mossy mountains or dashing against 
the cliffs, coarser shingle for the beach in sea scenes ; 
and the correct use of all these sands is a history in 
itself, as all the different coloured varieties come 
from the different rivers of Japan, and to use the 
wrong sand to represent water or earth would be 
an unforgivable crime in the eye of the master. 

To show that great men have turned their 
attention to these little toy gardens, no less an 
artist than the celebrated JHiroshige, whose colour- 
prints of the fifty-three stages of the journey on 
the old Tokaido road, along which the Shoguns, in 
days gone by, travelled with all the pomp and state 
due to their rank, from Kyoto to Yedo, are well 
known and prized by all lovers of these prints, 
evidently considered these scenes so suited for the 
making of toy gardens, that he designed a special 
book in which the fifty -three views appear as 



70 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

Hachi - niwa. The book is now, unfortunately, 
scarce and difficult to obtain, but I had the delight 
of seeing the whole set of views in real life, each in 
its little dish. My teacher told me that the first 
Exhibition of Hachi-niwa ever held in Kyoto 
would take place at the Kyoto Club, where the 
various competitors would exhibit different views, 
and a prize would be awarded, from votes by ballot, 
to the best in the collection. Needless to say, as 
soon as the doors, or rather the sliding shoji, of the 
club were thrown open to the public, I hastened 
to study these perfect little works of art. Round 
three white-matted rooms they stood, each dish on 
a low black wood stand a few inches high, raised 
on a dais only another few inches from the ground, 
so that to view them properly it was necessary to 
kneel in adoration before them. I was asked to 
vote for the three I liked best, and never did I 
have a greater difficulty in deciding. At first a 
view of Kodzu attracted my attention, with its 
pine-clad cliffs, deep-indented coast line, stony beach 
with a moored junk, and stretching away in the 
distance an expanse of pale blue sea, in the offing 
being a fleet of fishing-boats with sails not more 
than half an inch in size bellying in the breeze. 
This seemed to me perfection ; every ripple on the 



NURSERY GARDENS 71 

water was marked in the sand, the crests of the 
waves white, the shadows a deep blue, and the re- 
flection of the junk in perfect outline a marvel of 
neatness and ingenuity. But to the Japanese this 
did not appeal ; they condemned it for its very 
perfection ; any one, they said, could make such 
a scene who had sufficient patience and neat fingers ; 
whereas the view of Kanaya appealed to them as 
having something grand and yet simple in its con- 
ception. A river of white sand threaded its way 
through the mossy plain, and in the distance stood 
the little mountain village nestling at the foot of a 
range of mountains carved in stone. This was 
awarded the prize, and, I was glad to think, had 
been made by my teacher. Such an exhibition I 
had expected would be principally visited by women 
and children, as I had heard that the making of 
Hachi-niwa was a favourite occupation for the ladies 
of Tokyo, but here in Kyoto they found interest in 
the eyes of "grave and reverend seigneurs" who 
gathered in groups about the rooms. I saw all the 
members of the club, politicians, writers, poets, the 
greatest in the land, engrossed in discussing the 
merits or demerits of toy gardens, and I could not 
help thinking that here was a country indeed where 
" small things amuse great minds." 



CHAPTER V 

TEMPLE GARDENS 

OF all the gardens in Japan, and surely in no other 
country are there so many different forms of 
gardening, the temple garden, or often the garden 
surrounding some mouldering Buddhist monastery, 
remains a peaceful, secluded spot, recalling the Old 
Japan and days gone by. Unluckily many of them 
are fast falling into decay, like the buildings they 
surround ; but perhaps it is better so, as they would 
surely suffer at the hands of the restorer, just as many 
of the temples have suffered ; and though little may 
remain of the original gardens, the stones, beautified 
possibly by time, are still the same ; the trees may 
have grown old and gnarled, but the form of the 
garden remains unchanged. 

It has been said that every good garden should be 
a " modulation from pure nature to pure art/' and 
no one seems to have understood the saying better 

72 



AT KITANO TENJIN 



TEMPLE GARDENS 73 

than the makers of these old temple gardens : they 
are always a setting for the building they surround, 
adding to its grandeur, never dwarfing it; the 
placing of every stone, the curve of every walk, 
the shape of the pond, all seem to have been duly 
weighed and considered, and the result is an 
harmonious whole. 

The grand Nikko temples, the shrines in 
Uyeno or Shiba, have been left in their natural 
surroundings ; the tall grey masts of the crypto- 
merias stand like sentries to guard their precious 
treasure, the avenues broken only by long vistas of 
enormous steps or the uprights of a colossal granite 
torii. Nothing could be more imposing, and the 
effect of the bronze green of the cryptomerias 
against the splendid colour of the temple gives 
the crowning touch to a picture which in itself alone 
is worth travelling many thousand miles to see. 

At Uyeno the cherry-trees reign all supreme, 
they do their full work ; the mixing of other shrubs 
or trees would be unnecessary and meaningless; 
this is the simplest and yet the grandest form of 
gardening; a few large bronze lanterns and grey 
stones help to show off the delicate pink of the 
blossoms when they are in their glory, and yet seem 

to be part of the temple itself, as no temple or 

10 



74 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

shrine is complete without some of these beautiful 
votive offerings. 

At Nara, again, the cryptomeria forms the prin- 
cipal setting; in spring, many of the trees are 
wreathed with wistaria, the royal fuji, but this only 
helps to enhance their colour, and is suggestive of 
a grey misty vapour rather than a real flower, as 
often one sees no trace of the stem of the wis- 
taria, and one wonders how the mass of mauve 
flowers has managed to appear suddenly at the 
very top of one of those giants of the forest 

It is not around these large and world-renowned 
temples that one finds a garden, in the sense that 
we Europeans regard a garden, but rather in 
some peaceful spot which seems to have been 
overlooked by the hustle and bustle of the large 
town in which it may be situated. I am thinking 
now of one such garden in Kyoto ; the evening 
bell seems to call you to come within its sanctuary, 
and once there one would surely never leave until 
the final closing of its great outer wooden door 
sends the loiterer away. It has an irresistible 
charm this tiny garden, hardly more than a toy 
compared to the scale of our English gardens, 
and it was no surprise to me to learn that 
it was planned to suggest in miniature the 



TEMPLE GARDENS 75 

fabulous Garden of Paradise. One enters its outer 
precincts through one of those solid wooden gate- 
ways which seem so fitting to guard their charge, 
wood guarding wood, for remember all temples are 
made of wood in Japan; though many different 
kinds may be used, and the rarer and more 
beautifully veined pieces are brought together and 
collected from far and wide, still it is all wood, and 
for that reason the buildings seem to be especially 
in keeping with a garden. 

On either side of the gateway stand two old 
pine-trees, carefully trained and thinned at the 
proper season ; but the most beautiful guardian is 
just within the gate, a grand old weeping cherry- 
tree, in April its boughs bent down by the weight 
of its blossoms, while its glory lasts for a week or 
two, casting a pinky light on all around. Even 
now you are only being prepared for the beauty 
to come, as you must knock on yet another 
little wooden door and ask permission of the 
acolyte to enter ; he will offer to tell you the 
history of the garden in his peculiar sing-song 
note, suggesting a recitative, and utterly incom- 
prehensible, unless you have thoroughly mastered 
his language. Seeing a foreigner he will probably 
reconcile himself to letting you wander at your 



76 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

will, and enjoy the beauties of this little haven 
of rest. We are told that the buildings were 
formerly magnificent, but have suffered from fire 
at the hands of the ronins, and in later days from 
accidental fires. What remains of the original 
building seems complete in itself, and one feels 
one would not have it otherwise. The garden was 
designed by the celebrated Kobori Enshu, and, like 
all his work, is much regarded and valued by the 
Japanese. The plan, roughly speaking, appears 
to be two ponds, a wooden bridge, and three 
tiny islands ; but to the understanding one, they 
are the Crane and Tortoise ponds, the two small 
islands on the south being regarded as a crane, 
while the northern one is a tortoise. The wooden 
bridge is a Bridge of Heaven, and contains the 
Kwangetsudai, or Moon -gazing Platform, brought 
from the Momoyama Palace at Fushimi, where 
Hideyoshi is said to have used it for that purpose. 
All this is of deep interest to the Japanese ; but to 
our eyes the charm of the garden lies in the fact 
that it is a little old-world garden full of re- 
pose, suggesting the Old Japan, and spots where 
foreign feet have seldom trod. I have known this 
garden at all seasons of the year. In February, when 
biting snow- showers remind one that winter is not 



TEMPLE GARDENS 77 

yet over, the moss- and lichen-clad stones, the trim, 
clean-cut azalea and sweet box bushes, and the 
carpet of velvety moss in broad patches where the 
turf has not yet recovered from the winter frosts, 
are its only adornments. The pink buds of the 
one plum-tree it contains are fast swelling, and 
show you that spring's fairy raiment is being 
prepared by Nature ; the buds of the large bush 
of flame-coloured Azalea mollis possibly the pride 
of the garden also help to give promise of future 
glories. 

Kodaiji was once famous for its cherry-trees, 
but now few remain, and we must content 
ourselves with its other treasures, which seem to 
bloom in one never-ending succession throughout 
the year. July is the only month in which I have 
never seen this garden, but I feel certain that even 
then there is no blank, something would spring up 
to be the pride of the garden. In March her one 
plum-tree reigns supreme, in April the cherry 
blossom ; in May the Crane pond is fringed with 
purple irises, and the gorgeous azalea casts its 
reflection also ; in June the later Azalea indica .... 
flower as best they can, but how many of their buds 
fall victims to the gardener's shears. In July the 
lotus leaves in both the ponds are already getting 



78 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

taller every hour, and in the early hours of some 
morning late in July the first lotus bud will open 
with a crack and gradually unfurl its beautiful 
pink or white blossom. All through August fresh 
buds will appear, and indeed well into September, 
when at last the leaves will begin to curl and 
shrivel, and one can only wonder how they stood 
the scorching heat of the sun all through those 
long weeks. 

By the beginning of October the leaves of 
the maples will be turning, gradually growing 
more and more fiery in colour as the month dies 
out, till in November they are in all their gaudy 
splendour, and Kodaiji is noted for its momiji. 
The priest, too, who evidently loves his garden, has 
by now moved with tender care his chrysanthemum 
plants, whose pots have been kept from the sun's 
fiercest rays, and never allowed to cry out for 
water, and placed them in one of those curiously 
fragile little structures which seem to exist only 
for the protection of chrysanthemums, with a roof 
more suggestive of a chess-board than anything 
else, and arranged them in front of his dwelling- 
room, so that he can sit and gaze at them, just as 
in old days Hideyoshi sat on the neighbouring 
platform to gaze at the moon. Do not imagine 



A SHRINE AT KYOMIDZU 



SATAKE GARDEN, TOKYO 



' ' 



n 





m 




TEMPLE GARDENS 79 

that when the last maple falls, or the last kiku 
flower is cut, the year is over in this favoured 
little spot, for in December the Camellia Sasanqua 
holds its own against frost and even snow; its 
lovely rose-coloured flowers, which with their yellow 
stamens, are more suggestive of the blooms of 
Penzance briar roses than of camellias, are in sharp 
contrast with the deep glossy foliage, and seem 
more fitted for a spring flower than one for the 
dying year. 

It is not always easy for the foreigner to obtain 
permission to visit some of these secluded and 
hallowed spots. I can recall a long rough ricksha 
drive in the environs of Kyoto, through somewhat 
uninteresting country, consisting of endless miles 
of rice-fields Hiezan, it is true, forming a beauti- 
ful background ; but though I was armed with 
credentials which I was assured would gain me 
admission to a veritable holy of holies, a garden so 
old that no one knew its origin, my enthusiasm 
was beginning to wane when we arrived within 
some large rambling temple grounds. We asked 
to see the garden, and were bowed into a not very 
interesting and rather uncared-for court, but I felt 
this could not be the spot I had come so far to see ; 
besides, admission had been too readily granted ; it 



80 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

would require patience and perseverance to find 
this inner sanctuary. After many explanations 
and many times being assured there was no 
other garden, we were eventually directed to the 
priest's private dwelling, and then I knew my 
chance had come, as an especially holy man was 
the owner of the precious little garden. I was 
greeted with a look of horror and incredulity: "Was 
it possible that the foreigner had even penetrated 
within these mouldering monastery grounds?" 
The permission was granted, and I entered the 
spotlessly clean white -matted rooms, which all 
looked on the garden. First a little forecourt, and 
beyond, the sacred spot. At the first glance what 
did it consist of? A few stone lanterns, almost 
diminutive in size, to be in keeping with the rest 
of the garden ; some so buried in velvety moss 
that their shape seemed almost altered by the 
thickness of their green canopy ; a few curiously 
shaped and fantastic stones, also with their covering 
of grey lichen and moss ; some old gnarled and 
twisted shrubs, and two or three little toy stone 
bridges. Not a single flower to break the severity 
of the outline. The garden lay in a pine wood, and 
at first I thought, " How curious that a spot so 
evidently well cared for should be carpeted thickly 



WHITE CHERRY AT KITANO 



^r^** t 




TEMPLE GARDENS 81 

with pine needles ! " Never had I seen stone bridges 
placed where there was no water to cross ; the 
only water in the garden appearing to be a tiny 
little ceaseless trickle in the beautifully shaped 
water-basin, which stands at the entrance to nearly 
all Japanese gardens, however small ; but presently 
I noticed that the pine needles only covered the 
actual ground, not one was lying on the little 
rising mound or lodging in any bush, and then I 
realised the cleverness, the ingenuity of the idea 
the pine needles represented the water ; each spine 
seemed to be in its place under the little bridge ; 
they came perfectly smooth and always following 
each the same way like flowing water. Presently 
some projecting point or little island in this fancy 
lake would break their regularity, and they would 
be turned and twisted to represent the current of 
the water. It took one's breath away. " Who ever 
had the patience to arrange this carpet ? " It seemed 
almost as if it might be the work of some one 
undergoing a penance, being condemned to keep 
these pine needles in perfect order ; one puff of 
wind might mean hours of work to their guardian. 
I felt that my perseverance had been well repaid, as 
during all my wanderings in Japan I never came 

across another example of that style of gardening, 

11 



82 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

nor was I ever able to obtain the real history of 
this garden. 

The gardens round the smaller temples seem 
generally to be in the special care of some old 
priest. Many of them unfortunately are fast falling 
into decay, and are often neglected ; but many are 
evidently the pride and joy of their owner, who 
usually seems much gratified by the admiration 
they evoke. Often only a very small piece is kept 
in anything like trim and formal order, and then 
one wanders up the hill and finds a different 
scene nature running riot, helped by a minute 
mountain stream, as an unceasing supply of mois- 
ture seems almost more necessary to the vegetation 
of Japan than to that of any other country ; but 
still the path winds on, and the wanderer is impelled 
to see where it will lead him to. The end is 
always the same, some silent graveyard perhaps 
only a score or so of memorials of the dead, or 
perhaps hundreds, or even it would seem almost 
thousands, of these ghostly moss-blackened monu- 
ments, jostling each other, so crowded are they, 
hardly any two alike in size or shape, leaning all 
of them, suggesting endless earthquakes, but 
mostly with a section of bamboo in front of them 
to hold a branch of evergreen or flower, showing 



TEMPLE GARDENS 83 

that some one still remembers the departed one, 
and loving hands light the humble incense bowl. 

Perhaps one of the most elaborate gardens I 
ever saw was that of Sampo-in, on the way to 
Otsu. Here one feels as if the work of man had 
almost distorted nature, if such a thing were 
possible, and yet the picture would be poor indeed 
were it not for its splendid setting of forest trees. 
Again a giant weeping cherry stands like a guardian 
within the gate, and then you pass on ; and never 
have I seen trees so fantastically twisted into the 
most impossible angles and shapes. The keynote 
of the garden seems to be the lilliputian mountain 
torrent, for does not that give a raison cCetre for 
the stone or turf bridges which are flung across it 
to connect the mossy banks with the diminutive 
islands, on one of which stands a celebrated pine, 
twisted, and torn, and cut, so that it has lost all 
trace of what nature intended it to be, but surely 
not lost all charm. In this garden also there are no 
flowers, only little trespassers. I noticed numbers 
of little wild flowers nestling in the shadow of the 
bridges or between the mossy rocks, seeming to 
pray to be left undisturbed by the ruthless weeder. 
The pride of this especial garden was its maples. 
When I saw it, they had not yet lost the red glow 



84 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

in which their leaves unfurl in spring; but in 
November they would doubtless be better still, and 
the garden illuminated by a blaze of colour. On 
leaving, it seemed impossible to avoid marring the 
patterns traced in the silver sand, patterns of a 
thousand years ago. 

Round some of the larger and more imposing 
temples and monasteries the ground is less a garden 
than a pleasaunce, for the little miniature gardens 
1 have described would be no fitting framework, 
for instance, for that noble building the Chion-in in 
Kyoto, whose grounds include some sixty acres on 
the wooded slope of those hills which form an un- 
rivalled background to the fairest city of Japan. 
So large an extent could not possibly be broken up 
and formed into a garden such as I have already 
described; the effect would be grotesque and all 
sense of true proportion lost. How imposing is 
the great gate standing in its setting of pines, in 
spring softened by the cherry blossom which shows 
here and there between them. A long dizzy flight 
of stone steps leads up to the main building of the 
temple. Here the ground has been levelled, 
the work of many thousand hands, it being no 
petty task to level a plateau large enough for 
the main building of this mighty edifice, some 



TEMPLE GARDENS 85 

146 feet long and 114 feet wide. Hardly less 
imposing is the assembly hall or room of 
thousand mats, surrounded by a wooden corridor 
so constructed that in walking round it there 
is produced a sound which is thought to re- 
semble the singing of the uguisu, the Japanese 
nightingale, and there is yet another grand hall, the 
Dai Hojo. How grandly and simply the grounds 
of this temple are adorned. The large square in 
front of the main building has for its chief adorn- 
ment two stone lanterns of colossal size, and the 
celebrated bronze water-basin in the form of a lotus 
leaf, from whose lip runs a ceaseless stream of clear 
water brought from the hill above. A few specially 
beautiful cherry-trees and some grand old pines, 
leaning most of them, but all the more beautiful for 
that reason, surround this square, and form a fitting 
setting to that massive pile. Yet another flight of 
steps leads to the bell-tower also a fitting guardian, 
as more than once the thundering of this mighty 
bell has summoned all who revered their beloved 
Chion-in to come and protect it from an imminent 
danger of fire. 

The Japanese are great respecters of legends, 
which may make a tree or stone sacred for all 
time. The Melon Rock, Kwasho Seki, has been 



86 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

so called from the story that a melon plant 
sprouted out from beneath the rock and grew so 
rapidly that in a single night it had covered the 
whole rock, blossomed, and borne fruit. Many 
hundred sight-seers trail during their weary tramp 
to gaze with awe at this plain grey stone inscribed 
with the characters of G-ozu Tenno or Bull-head 
Emperor, and we in our turn cannot fail to gaze 
with respect at their simple faith. 



CHAPTER VI 

SUMMER FLOWERS 

MAY is essentially the flower month in Japan, and 
a ramble through the country cannot fail to be a 
never-ending joy and surprise to the flower lover. 
It was nearly the middle of the flower month 
when, wearied of the works of man, the glories 
and splendour of the endless round of temples, 
museums, theatres, no dances, and the usual sights 
which all new-comers to the country must be 
introduced to, I started for Matsushima, the land 
of the pine-clad islands. I had not expected to 
find flowers there, but rather change of scene and 
peace. I felt that for a time I must be " far from 
the madding crowd." 

It is a fairy scene which greets the eye in 
the early dawn after a long and dusty journey, 
and I had to look and look again to make sure 
that these tiny phantom islands were real and 

87 



88 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

solid, not merely shadows on the water, or even 
a moored junk, which presently would pass on and 
vanish from the scene. As the sun rose higher the 
islands stood out clear in the yellow morning light, 
then one realised why they are called collectively 
Matsushima Pine Islands, for, however tiny it 
may be, each isle has to support its burden of 
twisted, bent, and leaning trees. How the seed 
has ever found the crannies and cracks between the 
rocks in which to ripen, and eventually develop 
into those fantastic trees, was a never-ending source 
of marvel and admiration to me. Think of the 
cruel winter snows, and storms blowing in from 
the Pacific, that these trees have had to withstand 
from their earliest infancy ; small wonder that some 
appear to have more spreading roots than branches. 
Many an idle day was spent exploring this little 
host of islands, some with their rosy carpet of 
azalea, perhaps not more than a few inches high, 
creeping along close to the ground as if seeking 
protection from the fierce winter gales. None 
the less beautiful for being dwarfed, it seemed 
rather as though this fiery pink azalea had 
taken the place of ground ivy, and what a beauti- 
ful remplafant \ On other islands the wild wis- 
taria had flung its long vine-like branches from 



SUMMER FLOWERS 89 

tree to tree, and suggested the lianes of a tropical 
forest ; one scrambled knee-deep in many of the 
hardier ferns to attain the summit of Ogidani, 
in order to gaze across the whole lagoon and out 
to Kinkwosan ; shrubs of bird-cherry were in all 
their glory ; and many others unknown to me 
helped, in this month of flowers, to make them not 
only pine -clad but flower -clad islands. It was 
with genuine regret that I left behind this en- 
chanted land, and with the cries of " Sayonara " 
and "Please come again" ringing in my ears I 
turned my back on the Toyo Hotel and its 
hospitable owner ; but time was slipping by, and 
though it would have been easy to dream away 
months here, I feared I might become a mere 
loafer, so, after watching the sun set one evening 
late in May, I returned once more to the railway, 
and the commonplace. 

The train took me back to Itsunomiya through 
wilder country than I had ever seen on any other 
railway line in Japan. Bandai San stood glowering 
and threatening in the distance, and we sped past 
pine-clad ridges and mountain streams, down to 
the lower land where glowing rose-coloured azalea 
seemed to grow as hazel or hornbeam undergrowth 
in England. One flashed past broad stretches of 

12 



90 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

colour, growing fewer and smaller where the ruth- 
less hand of the cultivator had no doubt found out 
that the fertile soil would grow other things more 
profitable, but how far less beautiful, than wild 
crimson satsuki. I was bound for Nikko on an 
"azalea pilgrimage," for surely every traveller 
should not fail to see the Nikko azaleas in all their 
glory, and later in the year the maples, which vie 
with the cryptomerias for the palm of beauty. The 
glorious avenue of cryptomerias which lined the old 
road to Nikko has suffered from the hands of time 
and man ; but long stretches of the splendid old 
trees still remain, and form a fitting approach to 
the little mountain village, celebrated throughout 
the length and breadth of the world for its mortuary 
shrines, whose final peacefulness and simplicity 
seem so striking after the ornate splendour and 
gorgeous colouring of the outer gates and temples. 
But it was azaleas, not temples, that I had come 
to see this time at Nikko, and surely no one could 
be disappointed. Climbing up the hill, every shade 
from delicate pink to clear red, pale transparent 
yellow, and even rosy purple, seems to have run 
riot in a veritable feast of colour. Little shrines 
nestle by the path, perhaps sheltering a small stone 
image of Jizo the Helper, the travellers' and the 



SUMMER FLOWERS 91 

children's God ; so we ask his kindly aid, and add 
our contribution to that of hundreds of other 
travellers, and pause to gaze by his side at the 
landscape across the valley where the river threads 
its way, now a harmless-looking stream, but in 
autumn to be swollen into a dangerous roaring 
torrent, sweeping along, leaving death and de- 
struction in its wake. The azaleas here are not 
the satsuki of Matsushima, but the Azalea Beni 
Renge, leafless as yet, as the flowers seem so thick 
upon their stems they leave no room for leaves. 
Their honeysuckle scent filled the air, and hither 
and thither darted huge black butterflies, look- 
ing strangely like humming-birds, only pausing 
for a second to suck a drop of honey, and then 
on again to another, perhaps more freshly opened 
flower. I noticed these same black butterflies always 
haunt red or deep pink flowers. Is it vanity on their 
part are they stopping to think how admirably the 
colour contrasts with their own glossy black wings ? 
Then I remembered that the first time I ever saw 
a humming-bird it was darting from one crimson 
hibiscus flower to another. Was that also vanity ? 
Or have crimson flowers sweeter or more delicately 
flavoured honey than the rest ? 

As the mountain road winds higher and higher 



92 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

above Nikko, on its way to Chuzenji, we left 
behind this variety of azalea, and came upon 
another quite unknown to me. At first I thought 
the mountain-sides were covered with peach-trees, 
whose blossoms lingered on in the higher or 
bleaker regions, but it was not so, all was azalea ; 
some so tall that their bare stems stretched high 
among the other trees, before they got enough 
light and air to wreathe their branches with the 
peach-coloured blossoms. On these, lichen seemed 
to take the place of leaves ; the effect is indescrib- 
able to one who has not seen it : the soft greenish- 
grey tufts clothe the stems, which might without 
their furry covering look lean and bare ; but all 
this beauty suggests weeks of autumn rain and 
damp heat, more healthy for plant life than for 
man. Often the path would be strewn with 
freshly fallen blossoms, and there overhead one 
could see the pink flowers against the sky. The 
banks and moorland were full of tender shoots and 
buds of shrubs and flowers, which in July will be 
an endless source of surprise and delight to the 
wild-flower hunter. 

Leaving Nikko behind in all its gay clothing, I 
bent my steps towards the Watanase valley, one of 
Japan's most beautiful valleys. The early summer 



THE KOBAI PLUM BLOSSOM 



SUMMER FLOWERS 93 

is indeed a harmony in greens ; the maples had hardly 
lost their spring colouring when I started in the early 
dawn from Ashio to follow the course of the river 
which dashes down some hundred feet or more below 
the road with a thundering roar, and certainly the 
valley well deserves its celebrity. The Paulonia 
trees were then in all their beauty, and side by side 
with great masses of their purple flowers the wild 
fuji wreathed the trees with its delicate mauve 
blossoms, until at last I felt that the valley ought 
to be called the "purple valley." A few tree 
pseonies were shedding their last petals in a tiny 
garden where we stopped to rest and sip the 
inevitable little cup of pale green tea, reminding 
one that summer had come and spring was gone, 
not to come again until the scorching summer 
months, the autumn storms, and winter snows had 
come and gone. 

In early summer the higher moorlands afford a 
happy hunting-ground for the flower collector. 
Purple iris and white rue seem to fight their way 
among the moorland grasses, here and there a 
Turk's-cap lily raises its scarlet head proudly, the 
purple bells of the Platycodon are just opening, 
and the wild white and pink campanula is already 
fading. The columbine, not the glorified hybrid 



94 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

Aquilegia of our English gardens, but the 
humble pale-coloured wild columbine with its 
long spurs and delicate fern-like foliage ; yellow 
valerian, mauve and white funkias, pink spiraeas, 
Solomon's seal, endless varieties of orchises, and 
in favoured districts the pale pink Cypredium 
macranthum are among the summer wild flowers, 
scattered over the plain or nestling on the banks 
of the mountain streams. The flowering shrubs 
seemed endless ; think how many shrubs introduced 
into Europe of late years are " japonica " ! 
all these find their homes in one district or 
another. Besides all the varieties of plum, cherry, 
and peach, in spring the andromeda bushes are 
laden with their white bell-flowers, suggestive of 
a waxy lily of the valley, to be followed by their 
young leaves as bright as any flowers; every 
variety of crabs, white deutzias, spiraeas, weigelias, 
the wild white syringa, which also seemed to differ 
from our garden variety, save only in its delicious 
odour ; and a form of Rhincospernum jasminoides 
which I had not seen before, whose heavy scent 
filled the air at sundown. All these I can recall 
having come across during my summer rambles, 
and doubtless there are many more. 

In the later summer months I wandered along 



SUMMER FLOWERS 95 

the beautiful coast of the province of Izu, which 
again seemed to be a home of flowers. The tall 
spikes of Bocconia cordata reared their heads 
proudly wherever they had escaped the hand of 
the destroyer ; apparently the plant is regarded by 
the country people as either poisonous or unlucky, 
as often a splendid clump of it, its height showing 
how thoroughly it appreciates the deep rich soil, 
will be here to-day and gone to-morrow, cut off 
and trampled down with evident intention. This 
coast seemed to be the home of the hydrangea and 
also of many different varieties of lilies. In May, 
on the lower ground of Hiezan, and especially in 
the neighbourhood of Lake Biwa, the pale pink 
Lilium Krameri may be found in tufts nestling 
under the shadow of some sheltering shrub, and 
scattered throughout the district the various forms 
of Lilium umbellatum, but the province of Izu 
seems to have soil more suited to the late summer 
lilies. By the middle of July the big buds of the 
Lilium auratum will be fighting their way among 
the rank growth along the roadside, and in a few 
days the air will be filled with their scent. Often 
I was attracted by their fragrance, perhaps all the 
more remarkable in a land which, alas ! is not 
famed for sweet smells, and then far above one's 



96 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

head, hanging defiantly out of reach, could be Sf -jn 
a single splendid bloom of this king among HI. ... 
They seem to love the shelter and dampness of 
the wood, where the falling leaves each autumn 
make a fresh covering for their bulbs. Once I 
tried to see how deep in the earth the bulbs were 
buried, but I did not succeed in getting down low 
enough, and could only tell, from the mark on the 
stem of the lily which had been pulled, that about 
eight to ten inches seemed to be the usual depth 
of the bulb. Often the stems seemed to bear only 
one splendid bloom, but I was told that was only 
because the bulbs were young, and even in their 
wild state from six to eight perfect blooms on one 
head were not uncommon. There appeared to be 
every variety of auratum, and I noticed that the 
broad -lea ved platyphyllum seemed even more sturdy 
than the rest, the foliage a deeper green, and the 
individual blossoms more perfect, the markings 
more distinct, and their scent, if such a thing were 
possible, even stronger and more overpowering 
than the more slender-growing Auratum virginale. 
Then there were the Eubro Vittatum with 
their band of pink down each petal, but never in 
a purely wild state did I see it so deep in colour 
and truly defined as in the cultivated form which 



L ILIUM AURATUM 



SUMMER FLOWERS 97 

is exported under that name. It was in the 
cottage gardens that I saw the finest lilies, ai 
many a giant bearing from twenty to thirty un- 
blemished blooms, at the top of a stem some six 
or seven feet high, clad with equally unblemished 
foliage, was brought to me, as it soon became 
known that the " foreigner " staying at Atami had 
come especially to see their yuri no hana. Not 
that the Japanese seem ever especially to admire 
them, and they are not included among their 
" seven beautiful flowers of late summer." Mr. 
Parsons gives an example of this fact : 

I was walking one day at Yoshida with a Japanese artist, 
a remarkable man, who was engaged in making a series of 
steel engravings, half landscape, half map, of the country 
round Fuji, and called his attention to a splendid clump of 
belladonna lilies growing near an old grey tomb ; but he 
would not have them at all, said they were foolish flowers, 
and the only reason he gave me for not liking them was 
because they came up without any leaves. When we got 
back to our tea-house he took my pen and paper and 
showed me what were the seven beautiful flowers of late 
summer: the convolvulus, the name of which in Japanese 
is " asago," meaning the same as our " morning glory " ; wild 
chrysanthemum ; yellow valerian ; the lespedeza, a kind of 
bush clover; Platycodon grandiflorum and purple blue 
campanula ; Eulaliajaponica, the tall grass which covers so 
many of the hills ; and shion, a rather insignificant aster. I 
noticed that some versions of the seven flowers differed from 

13 



98 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

his ; a large flowered mallow is often substituted for the last 
he named. There are doubtless different schools which hold 
strong views on the subject, but on the " morning glory " and 
some others they are evidently agreed. 

The tiger lilies were in bloom in the village 
gardens, but never in any great number a 
clump here and there, for they are seldom allowed 
to bloom, it is for their bulbs they are cultivated ; 
this is their "edible lily," and young bulbs of 
Lilium tigrinum are among their most prized 
vegetables. I had noticed a square bed of these 
lilies suggestive of an asparagus bed, in a priest's 
garden in Kyoto in May, and thought what a 
wealth of colour they would provide later in the 
year ; but next time I saw the garden, early in 
June it may have been, the lilies had all been 
executed just their heads cut off, and when I 
expressed amazement and regret I was told that 
this was always done to strengthen the bulb. The 
variety did not seem to be as fine as those grown 
under the name of Tigrinum Fortunii in England, 
and yet more robust and with larger heads than 
our common tiger lily ; probably the different soil 
and damper climate would account for this. 

The apricot-coloured Lilium Batemanni seemed 
to know how to protect their bulbs from the hand 



LILIES ON THE ROCKS, ATAMI 



SUMMER FLOWERS 99 

of the collector, for jutting out between the rocks, 
hanging perhaps a hundred feet above the sea, 
these lilies grow, tantalising to those who want 
to pick them, for these rocks are not easy to climb ; 
but how beautiful they are, their clear colour 
standing out against the grey cliffs and the restless 
deep blue sea below. 

The cultivation of lilies for exporting seems to 
have developed into quite an important industry 
in Japan of late years ; the district round Kama- 
kura and right away to Yumoto appeared to be 
the best soil for their culture. I never saw any 
Lilium longiflorum in their wild state, but 
thousands, I should think millions, of bulbs of this 
lily are exported annually, in all its different 
forms. For indoor growing the variety known as 
Harrisii seems still to be the favourite; though 
giganteum is a stronger form, and certainly is to 
be preferred for the open ground. Multiflorum 
is for the impatient grower, as it flowers some 
three weeks earlier, though it is a more slender 
kind ; and there are many others. Even in Japan 
the dreaded disease among Lilium auratum seemed 
to be not unknown ; apparently cultivation brings 
it in its train, as in fields and gardens I noticed 
occasionally the fatal yellow leaves, which means 



100 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

death to the bulb ; and the other form of disease 
known as "clubbing" may occur, even when the 
lilies are growing in their natural state the two 
stems grown into one, and the monster head so 
closely packed with blossoms that none can 
develop to their full size or beauty ; on one head 
alone I counted over a hundred blooms, but the 
effect was only that of a poor deformity. 

Very beautiful were the large bushes of 
hydrangea, their branches weighed down by their 
burdens of immense heads of bright blue flowers. 
In some parts of England where there is iron in 
the soil, hydrangeas in the open ground are blue, 
but what a poor washed-out blue compared to the 
intensely deep colour of this Japanese variety, 
Ajisia Aiyaku, meaning the blue hydrangea. 
Their great balls of blossom change from a pale 
yellow green to bright blue, brighter almost 
than the sky above, and as they fade, they 
turn to rosy purple, and back again to a dull 
green, clinging with ungraceful tenacity to life, as 
though loth or afraid to die, preferring to rot on 
their stem rather than drop untimely unlike the 
blossoms of spring, ever ready to depart life at the 
call of nature. A more graceful form is Hortensis 
Shirogaku, with its more loosely formed heads, 



AN HYDRANGEA BUSH 



SUMMER FLOWERS 101 

never forming a densely packed mass, each 
individual blossom showing, with the outer petals 
of a much paler colour in contrast with the deep 
blue centres. They are moisture-loving plants, as 
they seem to flourish best on the very brink of 
the miniature mountain torrents. The garden at 
Atami known as the Bai-en, celebrated for its early 
plum blossoms, was gay with great bushes of these 
shrubs in July ; they clothed the banks of the roar- 
ing stream, till, as their heads grew heavier, the 
lower branches were swept by the water. 

In the early days of August the hedges and 
banks in the low country were beginning to 
look parched and dusty, waiting for the autumn 
rains, which never fail, and will bring new life and 
freshness to all the herbage, but not new flowers 
the season of wild flowers is nearly gone ; though 
the autumn will bring us the true "lily of the 
field," the scarlet Nenne japomca a lily of the 
field, as it is only growing along the edges of the 
rice patches on neglected banks or nestling among 
the grey stone tombs of some forgotten graveyard, 
that you will ever see these lilies. Never in any 
garden however ill kept, never in any house, and 
never used as any form of decoration did I see 
this lily ; for are they not the "death flower," the 



102 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

flower of ill omen, or sometimes the "equinox 
flower," also suggestive of a season full of death 
and decay. Nerine or Lycoris japonica, or the 
spider lily its name seems difficult to determine 
made the land gay in the fading year, gorgeous 
splashes of colour against the ripening rice, its 
fringed heads rising leafless from the soil, some- 
times in scattered tufts, and sometimes great banks 
closely covered with their flaunting heads. I felt 
Japan must indeed be rich in flower treasures for 
such a one to be overlooked and uncared for. 
Perhaps in the South of England it might find a 
home a resting-place where it would be treasured, 
not destroyed ; at the foot of a grey stone wall a 
few tufts of this brilliant lily would be a " thing 
of beauty," though not "a joy for ever." 

By November the flower year is over ; the last 
chrysanthemum pots are being hurried under 
their temporary shelters, away from the danger of 
the early frost, which any night may turn the 
country into a blaze of scarlet and gold. Not only 
the maples will help the year to die in splendour, 
for so many other trees have as great a variety of 
colour, though perhaps not quite so brilliant, and the 
dark leaves of the tulip-trees will presently turn to 
a sheet of gold, the larch will be shedding its pale 



SUMMER FLOWERS 103 

yellow spines, while the Japanese oak, SMra 
Kashi, with its ruddy colour will help to relieve 
the solemn everlasting green of the pines and 
cryptomerias which clothe the hills. The ripened 
rice is being quickly stored, and only the grasses 
and foliage of herbaceous plants are left to give a 
note of colour to the fields and higher moorland ; 
the tall Eulalia japonica, waving in the wind, 
clothes the golden hills, but will soon be beaten 
down by the winter snows. So in a blaze of glory 
the year ends in this Land of Flowers. 



CHAPTER VII 

PLUM BLOSSOM 

IN Japan the flower year begins earlier than in 
Europe, and while the snow is still lying deep on 
the ground in the northern provinces, in warm and 
sheltered districts the Ume or plum blossom will 
clothe the trees with flowers as white as the snow. 
But in the country round Kyoto or Tokyo it is not 
until the end of February or the first days of 
March that the pale pink buds of the plum 
blossoms will be opening, and there will come a 
whisper through the air that in a few days the 
beloved ume-no-hana will be in all its glory. The 
plum is one of the favourite, perhaps the favourite 
tree of the Japanese, so in early March, when the 
sunny days will remind us that spring is coming, 
though the cruel frosts and snow showers at night 
will warn us that winter is not yet gone, every 
passer-by seems to be talking of ume, discussing 

104 



VIEWING THE PLUM BLOSSOMS 



PLUM BLOSSOM 105 

probably where the earliest blossoms are to be 
found, and when the first flower- viewing excursion 
of the year is to take place. 

The Japanese are essentially a flower-loving 
people ; in no other country would you find whole 
families, old and young, rich and poor, tramping 
for miles in the hot sun or through the drenching 
rain to indulge in their favourite pastime of flower- 
viewing. Showing how universal is this custom 
of special flower-viewing excursions, there is even 
a phrase in the Japanese language, liana miru, 
meaning to view flowers. 

The earliest plum blossom, known as the no-ume, 
is a somewhat uninteresting little white flower, not 
unlike the wild sloe in our English hedgerows, and 
I was beginning to think the celebrated plum 
blossom of Japan was an overrated flower, when 
gradually its full beauty dawned upon me. The 
deep pink buds of the later varieties opened into 
pale blush coloured blossoms, and the crimson buds 
of the kobai the most cherished of all burst 
into a cloud of brilliant pink flowers ; others there 
were, pale lemon coloured or large pure white, in 
great variety. The plum-tree is especially valued 
for its age, and a venerable tree, its stems covered 
with grey lichen, though its flowers may be 



14 



106 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

poor in quality, will be more prized than a 
young tree with the most brilliant coloured 
blossoms. 

Tsukigase, in the province of Shima, a little 
village famous for the beauty of its plum-trees, is 
one of the first places to ,be visited by that large 
proportion of the inhabitants of Kyoto who seem 
to spend most or all their days during the spring 
months in a never-ending round of sight -seeing 
and flower-viewing. In the month of March the 
village is made gay for the reception of these 
holiday-makers, and undaunted by the bitter 
winds and vicious scuds of snow which mingle 
with the falling petals of the ume, they will spend 
long hours in quiet admiration of the mass of 
blossom which appears to fill the whole valley with 
a pink and white haze ; for over two miles the 
trees clothe the banks of the river Kizu. Countless 
tea-stalls are prepared for the guests, light bamboo 
structures adorned with a few printed linen curtains 
in soft harmonious colouring, and innumerable 
paper lanterns suffice for the preparation of a 
flower feast. Each night, or at the approach of 
rain, the little maids will carefully pack away the 
matted benches and these frail decorations under 
the thatched roof, to be brought forth on the 



THE GATE OF THE PLUM GARDENS 



PLUM BLOSSOM 107 

morrow or when the storm has cleared. The 
Japanese regard the flower ot the plum with a 
peculiar reverence, and their feeling for it always 
seems to be touched with some mysterious sense 
of sorrow, which perhaps accounted for the fact 
that these plum-blossom feasts never seemed to 
attain to the same merry boisterous revels held 
at the time of the cherry blossom. The people 
were more quiet and sober in their demeanour ; 
at first I thought their spirits were frozen by the 
cold, but even the endless drinking of tea and tiny 
cups of sake did not seem to thaw them, and often 
whole parties, wrapped in their outer winter 
kimonos, would sit in silent contemplation of the 
blossoms, warming their hands over that Japanese 
apology for a fire an hibachi consisting merely 
of a pot of charcoal. 

In old days the plum blossom was their ideal 
of purity, an ideal which some attempted to 
emulate in their lives. The same feelings prevail 
in China, if we may judge from the poets. This, 
to be sure, is not surprising, inasmuch as Japan 
took her literature, like most other things, from the 
Chinese. The early poems of both countries are 
much alike, and among them both are many ume 
poems, as the Japanese call them, extolling the 



108 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

beauty and charm of the plum blossom, which 
ranks as the poets own flower. Mr. Kango 
Uchimura has written an ode to it in prose, which 
contains the following passage : 

While Spring was still cold I knew that it was at hand 
by your flowering. You are not Spring, but the prophet of 
Spring. The cherry blossom is Spring, the iris and the 
wistaria ; but, as each of these has its own season, the gods 
sent you to keep green our hope of Spring. 

I do not say I love you, rather I fear you ; you are too 
dignified ; you blossom alone on the branches with no green 
leaves to bear you company. I do not call you beautiful ; 
your scent is too keen, your petals too stiff. No one will ever 
sing or dance beneath your boughs. You are the prophet 
Jeremiah ; you are John the Baptist. Standing before you 
I feel as though in the presence of a solemn master. Yet 
by your appearance I know that Winter has passed, and 
that the delightful Spring is at hand. The herald of Spring, 
you denounce the tyranny of Winter. Your face is stern, 
but your heart is soft. It is easy to misunderstand you, for, 
though the daughter of Spring, you wear the garb of a man 
the man ordained to break the power of cruel Winter. 

Two famous men in olden days were particularly 
associated with the flowers of the plum. One of 
these was Kajiwara Genda Kagesuge, a great 
warrior of the twelfth century, who always went 
into battle carrying in his quiver fresh branches 
of the blossom, to which, so says the legend, he was 
indebted for his splendid courage. The other was 



PLUM BLOSSOM 109 

Sugawara No Michizane, the minister of the 
Emperor Ude. The Kwampaku Tokihira, wishing 
to be quit of the sage's wisdom, sent him into a 
sort of honourable exile in the island of Kyushu, 
where he died in 903. After his death came a 
great reaction in his favour. He was canonised 
under the name of Tenjin, or the Heavenly god, 
and to this day he is venerated by all men of 
letters as their patron saint; in every school the 
twenty-fifth day of each month is kept as a holiday, 
and every year on the twenty-fifth of June a 
great festival is held in his honour. His life is 
dramatised in the popular play Sugawara Tenjin 
Ki, and all over the land shrines dedicated to his 
memory rise from groves of plum-trees. 

One of the most famous and beautiful of these 
is the temple of Kitano Tenjin at Kyoto, which has 
provided subjects for several of the illustrations in 
this volume. In the inner court of the temple 
near the splendid two-storied gateway of the Sun, 
Moon, and Stars stands a large tree of the bright 
pink blossom, and it would be difficult to find a 
more beautiful setting for the tree than the 
background of grey wooden buildings, of which 
the decorations have been toned by the hand of 
time into soft mellow hues. In the outer grounds 



110 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

the trees have a background of giant cryptomerias, 
with long avenues of stone lanterns votive offer- 
ings of every conceivable shape and size small 
shrines, and two great granite torii, the plain 
yet majestic gateways which guard the entrance 
to all Shinto temples. When the trees are in 
all their glory the flower-viewing parties wander 
through the grounds in silent admiration, down 
to the little ravine outside the temple grounds, 
where the snow-white blossom fills the little valley 
and clouds of petals fall into the brook below, 
to be carried away down the stream like drifts 
of foam. Here may be seen a poet of the old 
school rapt in thought composing an ode to the 
blossom and the nightingale. It is a pretty fancy 
much honoured in Japan, the plum blossom, the 
poet, and the nightingale making, they say, the 
world of beauty complete. For no Japanese 
ever thinks of the plum blossom apart from the 
nightingale which, it should be observed, is not 
the bird of Keats's poem, singing of summer in full- 
throated ease, but a little light-winged creature 
whose favourite haunt is among the flowering 
branches of this tree. 

In Japanese legends the plum blossom and the 
nightingale are inseparable companions, and repre- 



THE TIME OF THE PLUM BLOSSOMS 



PLUM BLOSSOM 111 

sent the two spirits of the awakening spring when 
the mists of winter first begin to roll away. There 
is a story, for instance, of the daughter of the 
poet Kino Tsurayuki, who lived in the days of the 
Emperor Murakami, in the tenth century. From 
time immemorial a single plum-tree had always 
stood before the south pavilion of the Imperial 
Palace at Nara, and when at some period of this 
Emperor's reign the tree died, messengers were 
despatched in hot haste to find one worthy to 
replace it. One was found in the garden of the 
poet aforesaid, a fine tree with crimson blossoms 
belonging to his daughter, who was most reluctant 
to part with her favourite. However, there was, 
of course, no help for it, and the tree was sent off 
to the palace grounds with some verses fastened to 
it, which run thus in Mr. Brinkley's translation 

Claimed for our sovereign's use, 
Blossoms I've loved so long, 
Can I in duty fail ? 
But for the nightingale, 
Seeking her home of song, 
How shall I find excuse ? 

The Emperor, struck with the graceful sentiment 
of the verses, made inquiries as to the writer, and 
finding that she was the daughter of his favourite 
poet, ordered the tree to be returned to her. 



FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

Throughout Japan there is scarcely a district to 
be found without orchards and groves or temple 
grounds where the flower-seeker can go to greet 
spring and the ume, but the people of Tokyo are 
singularly fortunate in their plum orchards. One 
of the most famous and beautiful is at Sugita, 
a charming little village nestling by the bluest of 
waters, near Yokohama, where a thousand trees 
have stood for upwards of a century, displaying 
their blossom every spring to admiring eyes 
from all the country round. Here there are six 
special kinds of the tree, and their fancy names 
mark the different characters of the flowers, the 
Japanese being very clever at finding characteristic 
names for flowers and trees. The Gwario Bai, or 
Recumbent Dragon Tree, is the most famous of 
these, being indeed the most notable thing in the 
outskirts of Tokyo. Some fifty years ago there 
grew a wonderful tree of vast age and strange 
shape, its branches having ploughed up the ground 
and thrown out new roots in no fewer than fourteen 
places, thus naturally covering an extensive area. 
The name of Gwario Bai was given to the tree by 
old Prince Rekko, who planted the groves in 
Tokiwa Park in 1837, a piece of forethought 
highly appreciated by many visitors to this day. 



PLUM BLOSSOM 113 

The Shogun (or Generalissimo) of that day also 
paid a visit to the spot, and made the tree 
Goyobaku or the Tree of Honourable Service, in 
return for which gracious act of condescension the 
fruit was presented to him every year. All these 
honours, however, could not save it from a natural 
death when its time came ; in its place now 
flourish a number of much less interesting trees, 
which nevertheless bear the same name, and 
apparently the same reputation, as their predecessor 
the Dragon of the prime. 

Not far from the Gwario Bai is the orchard of 
Kinegawa, which can boast an honoured name too, 
for here the poets come, and you may see perhaps 
a hundred slips of paper, containing uta or hokku 
(seventeen-syllabled) poems, fluttering from the 
branches. Perhaps here, too, we may find a family 
party, the mother with the youngest child tightly 
strapped on her back, its tiny shaven head hardly 
showing above the wadded quilt which is wrapped 
closely round it ; a little mite of a very few 
summers, tottering unsteadily on its clogs, clasping 
a branch of the natural tree adorned with paper 
blossoms, from which floats a streamer with some 
strange device, or any of the countless toys which 
go towards the making of a holiday ; and only a 

15 



114 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

few years older a little solemn-faced maiden, whose 
black beady eyes will glisten with wonder when she 
is told that she is called Ume san after the snow- 
white blossom at which she has been gazing with 
awe and admiration. Ume is a common name 
among Japanese women ; they connect it with the 
ideas of virtue and sweetness, and they are taught 
to keep the name unspotted during life and to 
leave it fair after death, even as the scent of the 
plum blossom smells sweet in the darkness. The 
following verses are from Piggot's Garden of 
Japan : 

Home friends change and change, 

Years pass quickly by ; 
Scent of our ancient plum-tree, 

Thou dost never die. 

Home friends are forgotten ; 

Plum-trees blossom fair, 
Petals falling to the breeze 

Leave their fragrance there. 

Cettria's fancy, too, 

Finds his cup of flowers, 
Seeks his peaceful hiding-place, 

In the plum's sweet bowers. 1 

Though the snow-flakes hide 

And thy blossoms kill, 
He will sing, and I shall find 

Fragrant incense still. 

1 Cettria, the nightingale. 



PLUM BLOSSOM 115 

Ginsekai is yet another orchard in the neighbour- 
hood of Tokyo, its name signifying Silver World, 
and on a moonlit night in spring you would say 
that never was a place more aptly named, if you 
saw the forest of white blossoms rising out of the 
snow-clad landscape. There are some pretty verses 
on the sight, which run thus in English : 

How shall I find my time tree ? 
The moon and the snow are white as she. 
By the fragrance blown on the evening air 
Shalt thou find her there. 

It is true that the white varieties of plum 
blossom have nearly all a most delicious and delicate 
scent, but the red varieties are quite devoid of any 
fragrance. The plum is known as one of the Four 
Floral Gentlemen, the others being the pine, the 
bamboo, and the orchid. It has flourished in 
China from time immemorial, where it is known as 
the Head of the Hundred Flowers, because it is the 
first to bloom, and it was probably imported from 
that country through the medium of Korea into 
Japan. Even that learned botanist the late Dr. 
Keisuke Ito could not say where the plum-tree 
first flowered in Japan, nor can any one say with 
certainty whether ume is a Chinese or a Japanese 
word. Kakimoto no Hitomaro, who lived about 



116 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

the end of the seventh century, was probably the 
first to celebrate the plum blossom in his verse ; 
and it may be said to have taken rank as a national 
flower when the Emperor Kwamaru (782-806) 
planted it before his palace when he moved his 
capital from Nara to Kyoto. 

In those days the word flower meant the flower 
of the plum, just as the word mountain meant Hiei 
san, but it was dethroned from its pride of place 
when the Emperor Murakami planted the cherry- 
tree in its stead, and though the plum still stands 
first with the men of mind, the cherry-tree has ever 
since been the popular favourite. That the latter 
is most beautiful cannot be disputed ; but for purity 
of outline, fragrance, and that touch of sadness, 
which the Japanese profess to find in it, the bloom 
of the plum is still unrivalled. 

There are upwards of three hundred and fifty 
specimens of the plum, white, pale and bright pink, 
or even red in colour, single or double in form. Of 
these the more important are : Yatsu buse ume, 
which derives its name from bearing eight fruits, 
the blossoms having from two to eight stamens, the 
word signifying eight tassels ; only two or three of 
these, however, ripen fully, and they are unfit for 
eating. The Bungo ume grows in the Bungo 



PLUM BLOSSOM 117 

province of the island of Kyushu ; its fruit is large 
and can be eaten uncooked, though the Japanese 
prefer it pickled or candied. The fruit of the Ko 
ume, celebrated for the beauty of its bright pink 
blossom, is no bigger than the tip of one's thumb, 
but has a delicious flavour. Toko no ume is a late 
fruit, clinging to the branch even when fully ripe, 
whence its name Toko, meaning eternal. The 
flowers of Suisen ume have six petals, round or 
long in shape. Hava ume, or the early plum, 
blooms at the winter solstice. 

In no other country does the culture of plants 
go hand in hand with art as it does in Japan ; not 
only in the case of their dwarf trees, marvels of 
horticultural art, but even the trees which are 
necessary for the scenery of their landscape gardens 
have to conform to the rules which govern the 
entire art of the country. I remember being shown 
with great pride by the owner of a tiny garden his 
one solitary plum-tree, the pride of his garden in 
those cold March days. It stood leaning over a 
miniature rocky precipice, down which tumbled a 
diminutive cascade; old and venerable it looked, 
having endured ruthless pruning, and only a few 
large single blossoms clothed its branches. I ex- 
pressed surprise and some regret that it did not 



118 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

bear more blossoms, and then it was explained to 
me that many of the buds had been removed, as 
otherwise the thick cloud of flowers would have 
hidden the outline of the branches ; this was a flight 
of aestheticism to which I could not rise, and I felt 
I should have preferred to see the tree bearing 
its full burden of blossom. This practice of 
disbudding is also occasionally carried out with old 
specimens of dwarf plum-trees when it is considered 
that a wealth of blossom would hide the growth of 
the little tree, which by careful training has after 
years of patience rewarded the owner by conform- 
ing to the desired shape laid down by the canons of 
art. These little trees are in great demand at the 
close of the year, for hardly a house in the land is 
without a tiny tree of ume, to bring luck at the 
opening of another year; so during November 
and December, when their pale-pink buds are fast 
swelling, they are tended with the greatest care, 
brought into the sun during the day, plentifully 
watered at sundown, and sheltered from all cold 
winds. Thus they flower sometimes as early as 
New Year's Day, to the intense pride and joy of 
their owners. The hearts of the plum-trees, say 
the Japanese, are a thousand years old, and yet 
young as the hopes of Japan. 



CHAPTER VIII 

PEACH BLOSSOM 

THE peach blossom has never attained the fame in 
Japanese art, or among their poets, that its classical 
predecessor the plum, or its successor the cherry 
of patriotic fame, has been honoured with ; but it 
is none the less beautiful for that reason, and its 
blossoms excel those of the plum in size, richness, 
and colouring. Towards the end of March the 
first flowers of the peach-trees will be opening, 
although long before this time, branches closely 
covered with the bright-pink buds will have been 
among the flowers offered for arrangement on the 
tokonoma, as in the warmth of the house (though 
surely there seems to be very little warmth in a 
Japanese house all through the long cold March 
days) the buds will quickly open and last in 
beauty for many days. These will be branches of 
the early bright pink variety, but it is not until the 

119 



120 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

beginning of April that the large flowered pure 
white, double and semi-double flowers of every 
shade of pink, and even a deep crimson of a remark- 
ably beautiful tone, will be in their full glory, and 
it is hard to understand why this splendid blossom 
should be comparatively neglected and relegated 
to secondary rank by the artist as a decorative 
motive and material. 

The less severely artistic, who find enjoyment 
at any spot where blossom and colour are to be 
seen, will visit Momoyama (Peach Mountain) in 
crowds during the first week in April, and the 
narrow streets leading up to the hill will be gay 
with visitors, and among the orchards the little 
temporary tea sheds will be set out for their 
comfort and refreshment. So yet another " Feast 
of blossom" will be celebrated. The trees may 
perhaps lack some of the grace of the old gnarled 
plum-trees, and they do not appear to have such a 
long life, as never did I hear of any very celebrated 
old specimen trees, but rather groves or orchards of 
younger trees, which no doubt, in order to make 
them bloom freely, receive drastic treatment at the 
hand of the pruner. Very lovely are these groves 
of peach-trees, and surely they must have found 
favour in the ancient days, as on Momoyama stood 



PEACH BLOSSOM 121 

Hideyoshi's palace, the grandest ever built in 
Japan, whose spoils in the shape of gold screens 
smdfusuma adorn half the temples in Kyoto. 

The peach orchards of Soka-no-momoyama at 
Senju are a favourite resort of the Tokyo holiday- 
makers, who make annual pilgrimages to do honour 
to the peach blossoms, and parties sit feasting on 
the matted benches ; here and there perhaps a group 
discussing the politics of the capital, or a solitary 
poet composing a hokku on the peach blossom, or 
a family party ; and there the little boys and girls, 
decked out in their brightest-coloured kimonos and 
obis in honour of the holiday, will be listening with 
rapt attention to the fairy-story of Momo Taro, 
who jumped out of a large peach-stone. To the 
older children it is an old story, for every Japanese 
child has listened at bedtime to the tale of Momo 
Taro told by its mother, but for the little ones 
this may be their first year of "peach-viewing" 
and understanding, and their eyebrows will rise 
in amazement when they hear the history. ; Once 
upon a time," the story says, "there was an old 
man and an old woman ; the old man went up the 
mountain to collect dried brushwood, and the old 
woman went to the river to wash clothes," and 
there one of the older boys will interrupt, I am 



10 



FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

sure, saying, " A big peach came down the river ; 
and Momo Taro jumped out of the stone when 
the old woman brought it home and cut it open, 
didn't he ? " So there is not a child in Japan who 
does not know the history of Momo Taro, the 
children's hero, who made an expedition into the 
Oniga Shima (Devil's Island) followed by his dog 
and monkey servitors. It would be no surprise 
to them to see even a fat little boy like themselves 
spring out of the end of the fruit, so the Japanese 
boys adore the peach; and the little girls share 
their affection for it, as it is always associated in 
their mind with their own especial festival. 

During the season of the early peach blossoms 
(on 3rd March) the Girls' Festival (Jdmi-no-sekku] 
is celebrated throughout Japan ; it is also called 
the Feast of Dolls (Hina Matsuri), and the Peach 
Festival, for no Girls' Festival is complete without 
some branches of peach blossom in the vase on 
the tokonoma. This day is eagerly looked forward 
to by every little girl in Japan, from the highest 
to the lowest in the land, for every house possesses 
its little store of dolls, only to be brought out and 
exhibited with due pomp and ceremony on this 
one day in the year. In the houses of the rich, 
the Dairi Hina tiny models of people and 



PEACH BLOSSOM 123 

their belongings the dolls will be dressed in 
gorgeous silk, and their accessories mostly made 
of priceless lacquer. The whole ancient Japanese 
Court in miniature there may be : these will all 
be displayed on the tokonoma of the guest chamber, 
possibly on a piece of brocade as gorgeous as the 
peach blossom in colour. And there you will see 
an emperor and an empress and a set of Court 
musicians ; before them the most elaborate dinner 
sets in ancient form ; beside them there will be 
the Sho kudat (lamp - stand with paper shade) 
with pictures of peach blossom on it. The little 
daughters of the house will surely look to our eyes 
only like larger dolls, with their delicate coloured 
silk crepe kimonos and stiff brocade obis stand- 
ing out like great butterflies on their backs, their 
hair carefully dressed according to their age, the 
older ones with just a little powder on their tiny 
inscrutable faces, acting as hostesses with all the 
solemn grace of their mother, offering to the guests 
tiny cups of tea and little fairy cakes shaped and 
coloured like peach petals. This girls' day is one 
of the prettiest sights in Japan, and yet there 
is no record how far back the festival originated, 
though it is believed to date from a thousand years 
ago. In the days of the Tokugawa feudal regime 



124 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

days of perfect peace and prosperity it became 
a very expensive festival, and great sums were 
expended on these toy Dairi Hina, so it is not 
surprising that they were handed down as heirlooms 
in families only to be displayed once a year, or 
sometimes a bride, scarcely more than a child her- 
self, would take her set of favourite dolls with her 
to her husband's house, so that her little daughter 
might perhaps some day also use them to celebrate 
the Girls' or Peach Festival. So in Japan the 
peach is truly the children's tree. 

Momo, meaning a hundred, is considered 
"emblematic of longevity and perfection," which 
probably is the origin of the story of Seibo the 
fairy who governed the western realm of China. 
She gave some peaches to the Emperor Butei, and 
told him that that variety of peach only bore fruit 
once in three thousand years, and he would live 
eternally from the fruit's heavenly influence. If 
we could only get such peaches to-day ? Perhaps 
it might do as well to eat a common peach from 
the market and dream, if possible, of the beauty 
of eternal life and be happy. 

In Chinese art the peach blossom seems to rank 
higher than it does in Japan, and a very favourite 
subject with Chinese artists is an ox in a peach 



PEACH BLOSSOM 125 

orchard. The finest pot-grown peach-trees I ever 
saw were in China, their gnarled stems looking 
truly a thousand years old, their branches trained 
and bent or merely drooping like a willow, 
covered with the clear pink blossoms. The trunks 
of these fine old trees may have been three or 
four feet high ; but in Japan it is possible to 
procure a little plant for perhaps 25 sen (about 
sixpence) whose branches are so tightly packed with 
blossoms it is impossible to see a trace of even 
the bark between them a perfect little tree in a 
delicate green or mottled blue porcelain pot. I 
could not help thinking what pleasure such trees 
would give in England, but apparently it is only 
the Japanese who know the real secret of growing 
them, the exact shoots to leave and which to cut 
away, to ensure this wealth of blossom. I felt in 
England my little peach-tree would only flower 
here and there, and its beauty would be lost. 

There is a popular saying in Japan, Momo kuri 
san nen, kaki hachinen, meaning "three years for 
peach and chestnut, eight years for persimmon." 
The peach-tree is of rapid growth ; this fact is 
proved by there being a variety called Issai momo, 
because it blooms the first year of its growth, and 
bears fruit the second. There is Futairo momo, the 



126 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

two-coloured peach, whose blossoms are mingled 
red and white in colour, single and double in 
petals ; there is Hiku momo, or chrysanthemum 
peach, as its blossoms are the shape of a chrysan- 
themum flower, in clusters of twelve or thirteen ; 
the camellia peach and many others with fancy 
names from their supposed resemblance to their 
god-father. The native peaches do not bear good 
fruit, and the better varieties have been introduced 
from America, but up to now with only moderate 
success. There are no good eating peaches in 
Japan ; this may be the fault of the climate, 
possibly the hot damp summer does not suit them, 
or the cultivation may be at fault ; but when their 
blossoms provide such a feast of colour and beauty 
it seems altogether too unromantic and too material 
to worry over the texture and flavour of the fruit. 



THE PAGODA, KYOMIDZU 



CHAPTER IX 

CHERRY BLOSSOM 

JAPAN is often called " The Land of the Cherry 
Blossom," and it is true that for centuries their 
Sakura-no-hana has been the favourite flower of 
the Japanese. The refinement and grace of its 
beauty appeals to them so intensely, that the 
month of April, the time of the cherry blossom, 
might almost be regarded as a national holiday 
throughout the country ; and can one wonder that 
a whole nation should forget for a time their 
work and domestic worries in the innocent enjoy- 
ment of sitting under the flower-laden trees ? 

In contrast to the simple growth of the plum- 
tree, the blossom of the cherry covers the whole 
tree in rich profusion, the branches bending under 
the weight of its luxuriance, scattering a rosy 
shower of petals as they sway in the spring breezes. 
Lafcadio Hearn, in his Glimpses of Unjamiliar 

127 



128 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

Japan, says : " When, in spring, the trees flower, 
it is as though fleecy masses of clouds, faintly 
tinged by sunset, had floated down from the sky, 
to fold themselves about the branches. . . . The 
reader who has never seen a cherry-tree blossoming 
in Japan cannot possibly imagine the delight of 
the spectacle. There are no green leaves; these 
come later ; there is only a glorious burst of 
blossoms, veiling every bough and twig in their 
delicate mist ; and the soil beneath each tree is 
covered deep out of sight by fallen petals, as by a 
drift of snow." 

Unlike many of the favourite flowers of Japan, 
which are only grown in certain districts, and 
might bloom altogether unobserved if one did not 
make a special search for them, the cherry is so 
lavishly planted throughout the Empire that it 
would be impossible to find any part of the country 
without some display of the blossom. 

The full beauty of the cherry is short-lived, 
and, almost before one has realised the transforma- 
tion of the whole landscape, brought about by this 
wonderful flower, with the help of the glorious 
April sunshine, a heavy rain-shower or sudden 
squall will scatter the petals like snow before the 
wind, and nothing will remain but the young brown 



CHERRY BLOSSOM 129 

leaves and the carpet of fallen petals beneath the 
trees. We are told of Fujiwara-no-Narinori, of 
the twelfth century, who prayed to the god Tai- 
zanfukun for the prolongation of the glory of his 
beloved cherry blossom. Fujiwara had planted 
over a hundred of the trees in his garden, and had, 
on that account, been named Sakura Machi by 
the people. It is said that the gods answered his 
prayer, and allowed the trees to remain in flower 
for twenty-one days. 

Another legend tells of Minamoto-no-Yoshiyo 
the warrior, who was despatched to fight with Abe- 
no-Sadato of Oshu. While on his way to the 
enemy's camp, he passed through groves of falling 
cherry blossoms, and was struck with lamentation 
over the changing of nature. His poem remains 
to this day, and after his death a monument was 
erected to his memory, on the spot where his 
inspiration seized him. 

It is difficult to decide in which surroundings the 
cherry blossom shows to best advantage. In the 
groves or orchards devoted entirely to the sakura, 
where the flower-laden trees will surround one on 
all sides, there will be cherry blossom, and nothing 
but cherry blossom almost as far as the eye can 
reach. From every tree will hang rosy-red lanterns, 

17 



130 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

or a poetical name and inscription will flutter in the 
breeze, while crowds of visitors wander through 
the grounds ; children clapping their chubby hands 
in sheer enjoyment of the blossoms, tumbling, in 
their haste to find fresh treasures, over their gay- 
coloured kimonos, which, with their gorgeous obi, 
have been put on to-day for the first time in the 
honour of spring, and the sakura. Perhaps you 
might prefer to see the trees in a setting of red- 
brown maples and deep-green pines, in a wilder and 
more natural state, where one of the many fast- 
flowing rivers will hurry along beneath the over- 
hanging boughs, carrying away great drifts of fallen 
petals ; or, again, by the sea-shore, where a few 
great trees, high up on the cliffs, away from all 
danger of salt sprays, will make a glorious fore- 
ground for the rugged coast-line and the wide 
stretch of sea beyond. But surely there is no more 
beautiful setting for the trees than the old temple 
buildings, with their wooden structures toned by 
countless ages. A great weeping cherry-tree will 
stand as a sentinel at the gateway, or a little tree 
laden with rosy blossoms will guard a tiny shrine. 

All through the bright spring days, thousands of 
sight-seers will climb the stone steps of the temple 
of Kyomizu or Good Water in Kyoto, and 



A BUDDHIST SHRINE 



CHERRY BLOSSOM 131 

wander through the buildings to the woods beyond. 
From the terrace they gaze down upon the grove 
of cherry and maple trees in the valley below, and 
then away over the grey roofs of Kyoto and the 
plain beyond, to Osaka, hidden in the morning 
mists, or to Arashiyama, whose groves will as- 
suredly be visited in due time by these untiring 
holiday-makers. At every turn a new beauty 
wipes out the remembrance of the last, and fills our 
soul with sadness, that nature will not stand still 
for awhile and give us leisure to enjoy what we 
know will be here to-day and gone to-morrow. 
Already the early single flowers are fading and 
falling ; every gentle breath of wind sends a fresh 
shower of the thin transparent petals to the ground. 
To-morrow the heavy clusters of the double pink 
blossoms will have lost their freshness, and will be 
hiding their glories under the brown leaves that 
seem to unfurl and grow while we look at them. 
Last, and perhaps best of all, will come the double 
white blossom, whose buds are now hanging in 
pink clusters, and whose beauty will linger until the 
close of the "cherry month." 

Maruyama Park in Kyoto has a great display of 
cherry blossom ; an enormous drooping cherry of 
great age, which has taken its name of Gion sakura 



132 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

from the Gion temple adjoining, stands in the 
middle of the park, and thousands of people come 
to gaze at it every year when it is in flower. To- 
wards the end of March, the park, which has been 
bleak and deserted all the winter, becomes a scene 
of bustle and activity. Temporary tea-houses 
are put up on every available space, hung with 
innumerable lanterns, and gaily-coloured curtains, 
most of these being painted with some representa- 
tion of the cherry blossom. With the unerring 
taste of the Japanese all the colouring is in harmony 
with the blossoms, no false note will clash or take 
away from the beauty of the surroundings. By the 
1st of April all is in readiness for the visitors, who 
from that day onwards will not fail to arrive in a 
never-ending stream during the whole month. Even 
if there come days when the rain descends in piti- 
less torrents, it does not seem to damp their ardour ; 
their clogs may be an inch or so higher; their 
kimonos will be girt tighter about their knees, to 
keep them from the mud; each one will carry a 
huge paper umbrella, black and red, deep blue or 
purple, or, commonest of all, the natural yellowish 
colour of the oiled paper, with the owner's name or 
the sign of the inn to which it may belong in large 
Katahana characters. Or should it be a late season 



THE FEAST OF THE CHERRY BLOSSOMS 



CHERRY BLOSSOM 133 

and the cherry not be in flower so early, it makes 
no difference, still the people come, it is the time 
when it ought to be in flower, and such is the 
imagination in the minds of these curious people, 
that they will gaze for hours at a tree with scarcely 
more than a tinge of colour in the buds with as 
much pleasure as if the tree were in all the glory of 
its full flower. On a holiday afternoon, when the 
weather is fine, every seat in the tea-houses is taken 
up by the pleasure parties, while in the open spaces 
the people spread mats brought with them for the 
purpose, and sit unfolding those neat little boxes 
and packets which contain their mysterious and 
wonderful food so unpalatable to our foreign ideas. 
Even the cakes and sugar-plums that accompany 
the cups of tea, unceasingly supplied by the tired 
little ne sans of the tea-houses, are in the shape of 
cherries impaled on wooden skewers, and eaten with 
relish by young and old alike. In no other country 
but Japan, where humanity is so closely associated 
with nature, and where the people mingle harmoni- 
ously with the background of flowers and trees, 
could one find such a scene the entire population 
of a great city given up to the whole-hearted 
enjoyment of nature. 

At nightfall the lanterns are lighted, and flaring 



134 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

torches round the giant tree cast their lurid light 
upon the heavily laden branches, which might well 
belong to some forest tree bending under the 
weight of freshly fallen snow. Those who cannot 
leave their work during the day, come forth at 
night to swell the throng. The sounds of music 
and feasting, the beating of tom-toms, and the 
ceaseless dragging of ten thousand clogs mingle 
with the cries of the toy -seller whose stock of 
those wonderful paper butterflies, and of the 
miniature lanterns with the candles ready lit, has 
to be constantly replenished to supply his endless 
customers. Thousands of country people, wearied 
with their round of sight-seeing, spend the night 
on the grass, only to start again at daybreak on a 
fresh pilgrimage of innocent pleasure. 

The Emperor Kameyama in the twelfth century 
planted a number of cherry-trees from Yoshino at 
Arashiyama, a picturesque gorge where the river 
Katsura, celebrated for the beauty of its rapids, 
running through a narrow valley, becomes a wide 
and shallow river and is renamed the Oi gawa. 
Here it is said this Emperor built a pavilion, and, 
during the cherry month, the Court held high 
revel for many years. The pavilion has long since 
disappeared, perhaps swept away by one of the 



CHERRY BLOSSOM 135 

numerous floods which devastate these valleys ; 
but the cherry-trees remain, and here, instead of 
the stately Court of ancient days, the modern 
Kyoto sight-seers hold their revels, for Arashiyama 
may be said to rank first among their favourite 
spring resorts. They gather in the tea-houses and 
flower-booths on the banks of the river, and spend 
their flower- viewing days by the running water and 
the clouds of white blossom, exclaiming possibly 
in the words of their poet, "Not second to 
Yoshino is Arashiyama, where the white spray 
of the torrent sprinkles the cherry blossom." 
Barge after barge, roofed over, with matted 
floor and decorated with innumerable lanterns 
to suggest a miniature tea-house, will take its 
load of visitors across the river, or they will spend 
some hours drifting idly down the stream, eating 
their midday meal or playing some childish game. 
Occasionally a flower - laden boat, which has 
successfully accomplished the passage of the 
rapids, will come into sight, and the sound of 
samisens, the saddest of all music, comes floating 
through the air. 

The habit of drinking sak'e while viewing the 
cherry blossom appears to have originated in the 
days of the Emperor Richiu, in the fifth century. 



136 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

While feasting with his courtiers in a pleasure- 
boat on a lake in one of the royal parks, some 
petals fell into his wine-cup, and drew the 
attention of the monarch to the hitherto despised 
blossom, and he exclaimed, " Without wine, who can 
properly enjoy the sight of the cherry blossoms ? " 
a sentiment which appears to have survived to 
this day. It was not, however, until the eighth 
century that the cherry blossom rose to the dis- 
tinction of a national flower. The Emperor Shomu, 
while hunting on Mount Mikasa, in the province 
of Yamato, was so struck by the beauty of the 
blossoms, that he sent some branches, accompanied 
by some verses of his own writing, to his consort 
Komio Kogo. Afterwards, in order to satisfy the 
curiosity of the Court ladies, who had never seen 
this wonderful flower, he commanded a number 
of the trees to be planted round the Palace of Nara, 
whence arose the custom of planting them near 
all the royal palaces in the country. 

The province of Yamato is especially celebrated 
for its cherry groves, and justly so, as the little 
mountain village of Yoshino has given the name to 
the most famous of all the varieties, and has even 
been called the headquarters of the cherry blossom ; 
and so profuse is the mass of blossom that the 



CHERRY BLOSSOM 137 

poets have compared it to mist or snow upon the 
hills. The little street of the village winds away up 
the spur of the hill, past many temples and shrines, 
until it becomes nothing but the rough stony 
path which ascends Mount Omine. Although the 
village stands high above the sea, its own especial 
kind of cherry is rather an early one ; the blossoms 
are large and single, pale pink in colour ; but its 
beauty is fleeting, and the visitor must go early in 
the "cherry month" to Yoshino, or he will be 
greeted by great showers of the falling petals being 
swirled away on the wind to join the light fleecy 
clouds on Mount Omine, or down to the mists 
which hang in the valley below, and nothing will 
be left but the remains of departed glories. 
During the few days, early in April, when the 
blossom is at its best, thousands of pilgrims visit the 
little village and occupy every available lodging; 
but the traveller who is not discouraged by the 
discomfort of primitive Japanese inns, or by the 
long tedious journey over the mountains from 
Nara, will find ample reward in the beauty of his 
surroundings. Mr. Parsons, in his Notes on 
Japan, thus described Yoshino : 

Everything in Yoshino is redolent of the cherry: the 
pink and white cakes brought in with the tea are in the shape 

18 



138 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

of its blossoms, and a conventional form of it is painted on 
every lantern and printed on every scrap of paper in the place. 
The shops sell preserved cherry flowers for making tea, and 
visitors to the tea-houses and temples are given maps of the 
district or, rather, broad sheets roughly printed in colours, 
not exactly a map or a picture on which every cherry 
grove is depicted in pink. And all this is simply enthusiasm 
for its beauty and associations ; for the trees bear no fruit 
worthy of the name. ... I was reminded constantly of a 
sentence a friend had written in one of my books, " Take 
pains to encourage the beautiful, for the useful encourages 
itself." It is difficult for an outsider to determine how 
much of this is genuine enthusiasm and how much is custom 
or traditional aestheticism, but it really matters little. 
That the popular idea of a holiday should be to wander 
about in the open air, visiting historic places, and gazing 
at the finest landscapes and the flowers in their due season, 
indicates a high level of true civilisation, and the custom, 
if it be only custom, proves the refinement of the people 
who originated it. 

Tokyo and its neighbourhood can lay claim to 
some of the most beautiful spots for viewing the 
cherry blossoms. The banks of the river Sumida 
at Mukojima are lined for miles with an avenue 
of ancient trees bending almost to the water's edge 
with the weight of their double blossoms. This 
is the favourite resort of the Tokyo holiday-makers, 
and crowds of pedestrians, carrying their gourds 
of wine, inaugurate a veritable Bureiko (carnival) 
and fill the booths and the houses which are 



THE PINK CHERRY 



CHERRY BLOSSOM 139 

temporarily erected along the banks of the river. 
Those citizens who can afford the greater luxury of 
a barge or roofed pleasure-boat spend the evening 
more peacefully in floating upon the calm surface 
of the river, gazing at the blossoming trees, cheered 
by the singing of the geishas and the playing of the 
samisens. So great is the attraction of cherry 
blossoms seen by the light of the pale moon, that 
they have even been given the special name 
of Yozakura or night cherry flowers. To the 
foreigner wishing to enjoy the prospect of the 
cherry blossoms in peace, such boisterous feasting 
will seem out of harmony with the natural quiet 
beauty of the spot, and he will do well to turn his 
steps and to spend a few hours in undisturbed 
enjoyment of the more dignified setting of Uyeno 
Park, where the giant trees of single and drooping 
blossom stand out in splendid contrast to the pines 
and cryptomerias surrounding the tombs of the 
Shoguns. Ralph Adams Cram thus describes the 
scene : 

Here the cherry trees are huge and immemorial, gnarled 
and rugged, but clutching sunrise clouds caught by the 
covetous hands of black branches, and held dancing and 
fluttering against the misty blue of the sky. Here and there 
a weeping cherry holds down its prize of pink vapour, until 
it almost brushes the heads of those who pass; here and 



140 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

there the background of bronze cryptomeria is flecked with 
puffs of pink, as though now and then the captive clouds 
had burst from the holding of crabbed branches only to be 
caught in their escape toward the upper air and prisoned 
by the tenacious fingers of the cedar. 

At the end of the road the path blurs in odorous mist, 
and in a moment we are enveloped in the rosy clouds. As 
far as the eye can reach stretches the low-hung canopy of 
the thin petals ; the trunks of the trees are small and gray, 
and one forgets them, or never thinks to associate them with 
the mist of pale vapour overhead, hung in the soft air, 
impalpable, evanescent, a gauzy cloud, lifted at dawn and 
poised breathless close over the earth. 

A little wind ripples above, and the air trembles with a 
snow of pink petals swerving and sliding down to the carpet 
of thin fallen blossoms, while darting children in scarlet and 
saffron and lavender crow and chatter, catching at the rosy 
flakes with brown fingers. 

The light here is pale and pearly as it filters through the 
sky of opal blossoms, and it transmutes the small dusky 
people into the semblance of butterflies and birds, now 
gathering into glimmering swarms of flickering colour, now 
darting off with shrieks of delight over the carpet of fallen 
petals. Here a slim girl with ivory skin has thrown off her 
ivory kimono, and clothed only in a clinging gown of 
vermilion crepe opening low on her bosom, barefooted, a 
great dancing butterfly of purple rice paper clinging to her 
black hair, is swaying rhythmically in an ecstatic dance, 
pausing now and then to flutter away like a red bird up the 
shadowy slope, until her flaming gown gleams among stone 
lanterns half lost in the gloom of great trees. Here a ring 
of shrieking children, wrinkled old women, and half-naked 
coolies are circling hand in hand in some absurd little game ; 
and here, there, and everywhere whole families are clustered 



CHERRY BLOSSOM 141 

on red blankets, eating endless rice and drinking illimit- 
able sake, while the tinkle of the samisen is in the ah*, and 
strange cool voices sing wistful songs in a haunting minor 
key. It is a kaleidoscope of flickering colour, a transformation 
scene of pearl and amber, opal and vermilion. 

Koganai, a day's excursion from Tokyo, is 
another attractive spot in the cherry blossom 
season an avenue of double cherry-trees stretching 
for two and a half miles along the river Tama. As 
the name suggests, tama meaning pearl, the water 
is clear, and the stream provides the people of 
Tokyo with their drinking water, which is brought 
to the city by means of an aqueduct. It is said 
that some ten thousand trees were originally 
brought from Yoshino, by command of the Shogun 
Yoshimune, and planted along the banks of the 
aqueduct, with the pretty idea that the purity of 
the blossoms would keep off impurities from the 
water-supply. Of this vast number of trees, even 
if they ever really existed, only a few hundreds 
remain to-day, but sufficient to keep up their old 
reputation and attract enough visitors for yet 
another merry and boisterous flower carnival; in 
fact, throughout the land, wherever there are 
cherry-trees, during the month of their glory 
there will be feasting. The blossom seems to act 



FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

as a magnet to draw the people together, and often 
by the wayside I have seen just one solitary tree, in 
all the fulness of its beauty, made sufficient excuse 
for a miniature feast. Just a few lanterns will be 
hung in the tree, a few matted benches will be 
spread out, and an old Kami san will be waiting 
to greet any passing traveller with her cries of 
Irasshai o kake nasai Welcome please sit down, 
and the offer of the inevitable tea, tobacco-box, 
and hibachi. 

The Emperor Saga, as early as the ninth 
century, inaugurated the Imperial garden parties 
to view the cherry blossom, which still take place 
annually at the old summer palace of the Shoguns, 
Shiba Rikyu. The gatherings were attended by 
the writers and poets of the day, who composed 
odes on the blossoms. Although robbed of many 
picturesque features by the lamentable custom of 
wearing foreign dress at Court, these functions are 
still of great interest to the foreigner, as affordin^ 
him the only available opportunity of visiting any 
of the Imperial gardens of the capital. 

In spite of the fact that the beauties of Tokyo 
are fast disappearing her moats bordered by 
splendid pines are almost things of the past ; broad 
streets with tramways, brick and stone houses, are 



CHERRY-TREE AT KYOMIDZU 



CHERRY BLOSSOM 143 

fast replacing the narrow streets and little wooden 
houses of old Yedo; the Yashiki or Daimios' houses 
and gardens are gone, replaced by foreign houses, 
Tokyo still retains her cherry-trees. No modern 
reformer has ever dared to sweep away her avenues 
of sakura, for to the Japanese the cherry is some- 
thing more than an ordinary flower ; it is difficult, 
if not impossible, for our Western minds to enter 
into their conception of it. To them the soul of 
the sakura, or cherry blossom, is the soul of Bushido 
(Chivalry), and the heart of Bushido is the heart of 
Japan. One of their songs says 

Hana wa sakura yo, 
Hito wa bushi. 
(Among flowers the cherry, 
Among men the samurai.) 

The precepts of Chivalry were started first as 
the glory of the elite, but grew in time to be the 
aspiration of the whole nation, and they found 
their ideal in the sakura. The phrase, Chitte koso 
sakura nari, meaning "It's a cherry blossom, it 
falls when it must," was taught in the old feudal 
days how to die from loyalty as the cherry blossom, 
the ethic of Death was the highest So to 
this day their ethics remain the same, and Tokyo 
retains her cherry-trees, which in spring transform 



144 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

the town into a garden of blossom. The poet 
Bashio sang in his hokku poem 

Hana wo kumo 

Kane wa Uyeno ka 

Asakusa ka. 

(A cloud of flowers ! 

Is it the bell from Uyeno 

Or from Asakusa ?) 

It is true that wherever the clouds of blossom 
are low they will shut out the prospect in Tokyo, 
and one is unable to tell whether the bell which 
sounds from far away is that of Asakusa or Uyeno. 

The number of different kinds of cherry-trees 
seems unlimited ; Japanese authorities quote one 
hundred distinct varieties. The first, and almost 
the most beautiful, to flower, is the Ito sakura or 
drooping cherry, with pendent branches like a 
weeping willow, and so-called from ito, meaning 
thread. These trees attain to a great size and 
make magnificent specimens. Almost at the same 
time bloom the Higan sakura equinox cherries 
with white single flowers or pale pink. Such are 
most of the trees at Uyeno, of majestic size, planted, 
it is said, by one of the Tokugawa Regents in 
imitation of the hills at Yoshino, though Asakusa 
yama, a hill in the suburbs of Tokyo, is more often 
spoken of as the new Yoshino. The Ukon sakura 



CHERRY BLOSSOM 145 

is very lovely, with its clusters of pale greenish- 
yellow double blossoms, but is rather scarce, and 
a variety known as Yaye hotoye has single and 
double blossoms on one tree, yaye meaning single 
and hotoye double. The Yoshino cherry I have 
already described ; Hi sakura has double blossoms, 
deep crimson in bud, and bright pink when open. 
There seems to be a never-ending list of these 
lovely trees, in bewildering variety early and late 
kinds, single, semi -double and double, large and 
small, from pure white through every shade of 
blush pink to light crimson, and the one beautiful 
pale yellow blossom, its outer petals just flushed 
with pink, suggesting the colouring of a tea-rose 
rather than a cherry blossom. The double varieties 
of course bear no fruit, but even the single 
" equinox cherries " bear none, so the Japanese are 
satisfied with their splendid blossom and do not 
worry about the poor insipid little fruit, which is 
all a cherry represents to them ; but they will salt 
the leaves and drink cherry-flavoured tea under 
the pink canopy of flowers during the time of the 
cherry blossoms, when, in the gladness of spring, all 
the world is making merry. 



19 



CHAPTER X 

WISTARIA AND P^EONY 

THE last petals of the cherry blossoms have only 
just fallen, and Nature hastens to provide a new 
treasure for the flower kingdom, and the first 
blooms of the wistaria Fuji no hana will be open- 
ing at the base of the quickly growing racemes. 
Not the far-famed Wistaria multijuga, whose 
immense long sprays of delicate mauve flowers are 
so associated throughout the world with the name 
of Japan, but the early-flowering wistaria, Brachy 
botris, with its tufts of white blossoms completely 
covering the closely pruned branches before any 
trace of a leaf appears. It would seem as if this 
modest white wistaria had been allowed by nature 
to bloom so early, for fear she should be overlooked 
and not appreciated when her more showy successor 
flings her purple mantle over the land. The Royal 
Fuji, fancifully called Niki-so, meaning "plant of 



146 



WISTARIA AND P^ONY 147 

the two seasons," because, appearing between the 
third and fourth months (old calendar), it belongs 
both to spring and summer, has rightly attained her 
high rank among the floral kingdom of Japan, for 
in no other country can be seen a restaurant set 
out for the entertainment of perhaps a hundred 
guests, who will all feast wrapped in the purple 
haze of a roof of wistaria blossoms, all from a single 
vine. 

Perhaps the most popular haunt of the pleasure- 
seeker in the month of May is the celebrated 
Kameido Temple in Tokyo. Words fail me to 
describe the beauty of the scene : it is a real feast 
of fuji ; the long purple trails cover the large 
trellises, the wide rustic galleries, and connect the 
little matted restaurants, where hosts of people 
throughout the day sit feasting under the purple 
roof and feeding the gold fish in the lake. The 
matted benches are set out on a thick mauve carpet 
of fallen blossoms, and the little maids seem to 
have a never-ending task in sweeping away great 
heaps of the freshly fallen flowers, as though fear- 
ing that their guests will be smothered by them. 
No one seems to know so wisely as the Japanese 
in what surroundings to plant their flowers, so as 
to show them to their best advantage. Wistaria 



148 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

seems always to be grown near water, so that the 
trellis which is to bear its flower burden can be 
built out over the water. So it is at Kameido ; and 
as I sat surrounded, almost smothered, by the 
blossoms, inhaling their delicious scent and listening 
to the droning of the bees, I could gaze across the 
water at the reflection of a never-ending vista of 
mauve blossoms reaching on one side to the 
celebrated round wooden bridge, the delight of 
children, who seemed to cross it in one ceaseless 
stream, and on the other to the fine old temple, 
where a few ancient pine-trees are placed just where 
they will best harmonise with the long purple 
blossoms. The late sweet-scented white variety 
will prolong the fuji season by a few days ; their 
glory is but short-lived, a few days and then their 
colour begins to fade, the leaves appear among the 
blossoms, and their beauty is gone. I felt if I 
wanted to see wistaria again that year I must fly 
to the northern provinces, where the bean-scented 
blossoms will soon be clothing the forest trees. I 
turned away sadly, not forgetting the Japanese 
theory that the wistaria loves sake. So strong is 
their belief, that I was told that if you set a jar of 
the wine under the plant, its spray will grow longer 
from its desire to reach the jar ; so I ordered my 



WISTARIA, KAMEIDO 



WISTARIA AND P^ONY 149 

little cup of sake, sipped it, and then emptied the 
cup on the roots, according to their custom, hoping 
that I too might help to contribute to its great 
size and beauty. 

Very lovely is the scene at Kashukabe, where 
another famous wistaria grows. The vine is said 
to be some five hundred years old, its pendent 
clusters over 50 inches long and growing over 
trellises covering a space of 4000 feet. Noda in 
the province of Settsu is also celebrated for its 
wistaria, and a special variety has been named 
after the place. The cultivation of Wistaria 
multijuga, with its racemes from two to three 
feet in length, and the individual flowers having a 
lip of darker purple, seems to belong more especi- 
ally to the eastern provinces. And it must not 
be imagined that all wistaria in Japan has these 
immense long sprays. In the whole neighbour- 
hood of Kyoto I know of only two fine specimens 
of multijuga, and all the wild variety seems to be 
Wistaria chinensis, with its tufts of shorter 
racemes. 

Towards the end of the first week in May I 
made a pilgrimage to see the wistaria blossoms in 
Kasuga Park at Nara, and I shall never forget the 
enjoyment of that day, the blessed relief of being 



150 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

able to find a quiet spot away from the gazing 
crowd, in which to ramble or sit and enjoy the scene. 
The vines have clambered to the top of many of 
the tallest pines and cryptomerias, and their 
blossoms hang in wreaths ; in the distance the effect 
was suggestive of smoke rising among the trees. 
Many of the lower trees seemed to have been 
completely taken possession of by the trespasser, 
and the dead branches transformed into big 
bouquets of pale mauve. How far more beautiful 
were these natural supports than the somewhat 
unsightly bamboo poles which usually form the 
trellis for the vines. Little glades, down which 
winds a tiny clear stream, divide the ground, and 
the banks were covered with these old trees, 
completely smothered by the weight of blossom. 
Often the vine seemed not content with covering 
a single tree, but had thrown out long branches 
beyond, which, fallen to the ground, had rooted and 
then risen again to find a fresh prey, thus forming 
a double arch wreathed with purple tassels. This 
park is one of the few places in Japan where there 
is real turf, closely cropped by the herd of deer, and 
in the open spaces broad stretches of brilliant- 
coloured Azalea sinensis added to the enchantment 
of the scene and formed a perfect foreground. 



WISTARIA AND P.EONY 151 

To the Japanese mind the Juji is essentially 
feminine, and they find in the wistaria their ideal 
of woman, the Japanese woman whose charm 
of temperament and whose beauty has been so 
praised. It is a pretty idea, and it is not difficult 
to understand their ideal of woman when one 
observes how the wistaria clings to the undaunted 
pine, and how gently she falls down, easily moved 
by a breath of wind and yet firmly holding her own 
place. The wistaria is regarded as the emblem of 
gentleness and obedience, and these are the key- 
notes of a Japanese woman's character. 

The young tender leaves of wistaria are some- 
times eaten, and also used in the place of tea ; and 
the flowers themselves are used for food in some 
parts of China. The seeds baked in the fire have 
very much the same flavour as that of a chestnut. 
The bark is used for ropes and sandals ; and its 
branches are used, it is said, as cables, and also 
for bridge-making, as it is supposed that there 
is nothing more durable than a wistaria bridge. 
Japanese antiquarians will tell you that in olden 
times, before carpenters' tools had been invented, 
the dwellings of the people in Japan were con- 
structed of young trees with the bark left on, 
fastened together with ropes made of the tough 



152 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

shoots of wistaria, and thatched with the grass 
called kava. Fuji appears to be a real Japanese 
flower, though in the Western countries it is 
called wistaria, in honour of Caspar Wistar, an 
American physician. 

One of the most celebrated classical No dances 
of Japan has wistaria as its theme. The little 
square boxes in front of the stage, with its long 
gallery or bridge (along which the No actors 
make their entrances and exits), are filled by the 
audience, apparently patiently waiting in quiet, 
somewhat sleepy expectancy. The long piercing 
sound of flutes mingled with the curiously sad 
rhythm of Tsuzumi drums has ceased ; and the high 
distinct declamation of the libretto begins. The 
priest, who is a necessary part of any No dance, is 
the first to appear on the stage ; he is supposed to 
reach Taka no Ura in the province of Ecchu, a 
place famous for wistaria, and here he meets a 
country girl who in a short time will reappear as 
the spirit of the wistaria ; she entreats him to pray 
for her, so that through the virtue of his prayer her 
flower spirit may enter into Nirvana or Paradise ; 
doubtless the spirit of the last flower of spring is 
not able to release herself from the world to attain 
Buddhistic perfection, so she hates to say her quick 



WISTARIA, NAGAOKA 



WISTARIA AND P^ONY 153 

farewell to spring, Presently the flower spirit, 
arrayed in gorgeous purple brocade, dances her last 
spring dance, and then, after receiving the priest's 
repeated prayer, she will disappear with joy. So 
ends the No play, so full of emblematical meaning 
to the minds of the Japanese. 

The wistaria and paeony seem to be closely 
associated, as not only do they flower at the same 
time and many gardens seem devoted to their com- 
bined culture, but just as in Japanese literature the 
wistaria is an emblem of womanhood, so in Chinese 
literature the paeony is compared to a beautiful 
woman. The paeony seems to be a plant of 
Chinese origin, and though it can hardly be classed 
as one of the most popular flowers of Japan, it plays 
an important part in the art of the country. The 
tree paeony is a delicate plant and requires scrupu- 
lous care and nursing in order that its blooms should 
attain their full size and colour. It is regarded as 
essentially the rich man's flower, and therefore it is 
often called the " flower of prosperity " ; another 
fancy name by which it is known is the " plant of 
twenty days," because it will preserve its freshness 
and beauty for that time. The celebrated garden 
at Honjo in Tokyo combines the cultivation of 

botan (tree paeony) with that of wistaria. A fine old 

20 



154 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

vine of multijuga overhangs the pond ; but one of 
the especial features of the garden is the cultiva- 
tion of wistarias in pots and tubs some grand 
old plants, flowering as though they would flower 
themselves to death. Others there were of all sizes 
and shapes ; some bent and leaning, some bearing 
veritable canopies of blossoms ; some pure white, 
some the pale mauve sinensis, and others the 
deeper-coloured multijuga. 

My first visit to "view the paeonies " was rather 
a disappointment to me, as, in order to protect the 
blooms from heavy rain or wind storms, the plants 
are all placed under the cover of temporary matting 
sheds. They seemed mostly to be grown in pots, 
and the effect of these rows of plants, each with 
its large and heavy blossoms supported by bam- 
boo stakes, was somewhat stiff and prim. A few 
stray plants there were, which, possibly for some 
slight defect in the shape or colour of the blooms, 
had not been included in the show collection ; and 
to the uninitiated these gave most pleasure, left 
standing in the open, their colour blending har- 
moniously with that of the wistaria blossoms. The 
pseony gardens seemed no haunt for the holiday- 
maker, but rather for the serious-minded gardener, 
who, truly interested in their culture, would spend 



A P^EONY GARDEN 



* */^ - -T<*&*~ l^4&^ 




WISTARIA AND PJEONY 155 

hours in quiet contemplation of the plants, dis- 
cussing the merits of the different varieties witl 
some fellow-enthusiast. There were some hundred 
different kinds of the tree paeony. The most prized 
ones were all either pure white blossoms, or those 
whose colour ranged from pale pink to red, quite 
rightly, however rare they may be, the purple-hued 
and yellow are less valued. Many a private garden 
belonging to the rich has its paeony show, and the 
plants are mostly brought from the neighbourhood 
of Nara, which is celebrated for its paeony gardens. 
And the gardens at Kabata are also famous for their 
blooms ; where too may be seen the combination 
of the fuji flowers covering long trellises and the 
little standard trees growing along the margin of 
the stream, their pendent trails reflected in the 
water, softening as it were the gorgeous splendour 
of the flaunting pseony blossoms. 

There is no more gorgeous floral sight than the 
paeony with its tremendous curling petals; but a 
Japanese artist told me that its fulness in splendour 
made those with a better poetical fancy and more 
quiet taste dislike it and think the beauty of the 
paeony to be even vulgar. Japan is nothing if 
she be not light and airy, and therefore the 
Japanese consider flowers with more delicate 



156 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

grace to be more artistic ; so the paeony has little 
chance to become their favourite flower, its beauty 
is too heavy. It has found, however, some admirers 
among the poets of Western Japan. In compari- 
son to the people of the eastern provinces the 
inhabitants of Osaka and Kyoto are said to be 
more showy in their taste, their art is heavier, so 
the pseony is called the Western Flower of Japan. 
If you compare China and Japan, the former's 
taste in art is more decorative and heavier, and 
remember what a favourite the pseony is as a 
decoration for their priceless porcelain. The variety 
of paeony known as Pceonia sinensis, the true 
Chinese pgeony, does not seem to be much 
regarded in Japan, and little attention seems to 
be given to its cultivation. 

The botan calls to mind the paeony lantern, and 
the pasony lantern or botan toro is suggestive of 
the Buddhist festival of Son (from July 13-16), 
when the great gates of Hades will open wide, 
and those dead souls who are still wandering about, 
being unable to enter Nirvana, will come back 
again to receive their relatives' prayers, by whose 
virtue they may get their final rest. So this 
festival is universally called the Soul Festival : in 
literature it is closely connected with ghosts. The 



WISTARIA AND PJSONY 157 

theatres will all play " ghost plays," as, of course, 
the story of the pseony lantern is a ghost story. 

A beautiful girl called O Tsuyu was the 
daughter of a certain samurai Ijima San, who 
lived apart from her father with her faithful maid 
O Yone. She happened to love Shinzaburo Ogi- 
hara, a young samurai, and died of love, and her 
maid followed her. Ogihara did not know of 
their death. He observed one summer evening 
that two young women who were O Tsuyu 
and O Yone passed before the gate of his house, 
carrying paeony lanterns in their hands, and he 
welcomed them. During the following seven nights 
O Tsuyu called on him at night with her usual paeony 
lantern in hand ; and then Shinzaburo was told by 
his friend that she was not a living person, but a 
ghost. He appealed to some holy priest to protect 
him from the ghost. The priest gave him some 
charm to hang at his door ; and when the charm 
one night was taken away, Ogihara was found 
dead the next morning. 

There is a rather charming ghost story of the 
paeony which is of Chinese origin ; the story is 
called the Ko Gyoku or Incense Jewel. Kaseikyu 
of Rozan, of fairy beauty, is famous for its pasonies. 
In Kaseikyu there lived a young scholar called 



158 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

Kosei. He was looking out of his window one 
day, and to his amazement he observed a beautiful 
young lady dressed in white who stood among 
the pseonies ; he saw her so often that he fell in 
love with her, and wrote a love-song dedicated to 
her fair soul. Then she appeared as in a dream 
to him one day and said, " My name is Ko 
Gyoku ; I was brought here from the city of 
Heiko, and my life is not without sadness." They 
promised to love each other, they continued to 
meet every day, till one day Ko Gyoku told 
him sadly that she had to go away; and the 
next morning, strange to say, Kosei observed 
that the pseonies in the garden had disappeared. 
Was she not the spirit of one of the pseonies ? 
He passed day and night in sad dreams and 
with many tears, thinking over his unhappy fate 
in love. To his surprise Ko Gyoku appeared 
after a long time, and they held each other's 
hands, but the man found the lady's hand cold. 
Ko Gyoku said, "Yesterday I was the living 
spirit of the flower, but to-day I am merely the 
ghost. My body is cold, the flower is dead." 
However, she was to his eyes as beautiful as 
before. She continued, "If you will be kind 
enough to give a cupful of water to the roots of 



WISTARIA, KABATA 



WISTARIA AND P^ONY 159 

the old pseonies every day, you will receive a 
reward in due course of time," and disappeared. 
Kosei found the next morning that new sprouts 
were beginning to come out from the old 
roots. 

The paeony was introduced into Japan from 
China in the eighth century, but failed to gain 
universal popularity, on account of the difficulty 
of cultivating it successfully ; but the Rich Man's 
Flower came to be regarded as the king of flowers, 
and therefore the lion and the peacock, the kings 
of the animal world, are its companions in art. 
They are always painted together in the decora- 
tion of a temple or palace wall, and when lions 
dance on the Japanese stage they always have a 
gorgeous background of paeonies. There may be 
more of myth than truth in the pretty story of 
Ichinenko, a kind of paeony, whose flowers turned 
crimson when Yo Ki Hi (the beloved mistress of 
the Emperor Genso, famous in Chinese history in 
connection with the paeony) accidentally touched the 
petals of the flower with her rouged finger-tips, 
when she appeared in the garden after finishing 
her morning toilette. 

So strong is the feeling among Japanese poets 
that the flower is lacking in any poetical grace^ 



160 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

that the Hokku l poet Hyoroku remarks in his 
Essay on a Hundred Flowers, "The pseony is 
like the mistress glorified in one's love, who acts 
as she pleases without any consideration for 
another's feeling. It has such an attitude, as if it 
spit out a rainbow into the blue sky." The poet 
Bushon, who has written more lines on the paeony 
than any other poet, says 

Niji wo haite (Spitting forth a rainbow 

Hirakanto suru Is about to bloom 

Botan hana. The paeony flower.) 

1 Hokku is a poem of seventeen syllables. 



CHAPTER XI 

AZALEAS 

EARLY in May the brilliant-coloured azaleas seem 
determined, by the splendour of their hues, to 
try and outshine their graceful, tender -coloured 
predecessors the plum, peach, and cherry. Surely 
no other plants ever equalled their display of 
colours every shade pure white, cream, salmon, 
pink, scarlet, orange, and purple; but even all 
this feast of colour will not make up for the delicate 
colour of the blossoming trees. There are so 
many different varieties of azalea, so many different 
ways of planting them, and even such a variety in 
their natural growth, that it is hard to say in which 
surroundings they appealed to me most. 

The most celebrated place for " viewing azalea 
blossoms " Satsuki no hana in all Japan is in the 
district of Shinjuku, a suburb of Tokyo, where the 
show gardens, known as the florists' gardens of 

161 21 



162 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

Okubo-mura, present a wealth of colour which I 
feel powerless to describe. These gardens, or rather 
azalea plantations, as no other plants are grown, are 
of very ancient date, and were frequented by the 
Tokugawa Regents, with whom they were as 
popular as they are with the sight-seer of to-day. 
A few sen will suffice to obtain permission to enter 
a never-ending succession of these little gardens, 
and so dazzled was I by their splendour that I do 
not remember that any one seemed more beautiful 
than another. Imagine these great bushes of im- 
mense size and great age simply smothered by their 
blossoms. Not a leaf was to be seen. My eyes 
ached at last, and I longed for the repose of a stretch 
of green. In and out among great banks of the 
scarlet and crimson Kaba-renge, the variety which 
flowers before the leaves appear, on past beds of 
Azalea indica with its large double and semi-double 
blooms of every shade, the paths will lead us, as if 
through a maze ; and surely this mass of colour 
helps to bewilder one. I was assured one venerable 
old bush, the thickness of whose stem testified to its 
great age, bore each year eight thousand blooms ; 
so closely packed did the blossoms appear to be, 
that it would have been no surprise to me had I 
been told they numbered eight million instead of 



AZALEAS 



AZALEAS 163 

thousands. The whole district was thronged with 
holiday-makers visiting the little gardens in one 
never-ending stream. But one thing differed here 
from all the other floral feasts I had ever seen in 
Japan : there were few, if any, little tea-houses set 
up in the gardens for the entertainment of the 
guests, who generally sit sipping tea, or some more 
potent beverage, and gaze upon the especial flower 
they have perhaps tramped many weary miles to 
see. Here there was no tea-drinking, they all re- 
treated to the neighbouring restaurants ; and why ? 
The reason was not far to seek : no human eyes 
could sit and gaze at that mass of colour for more 
than a few consecutive moments ; one would leave 
the garden blinded. The whole air was sweet with 
their delicious scent ; the bees were busy collecting 
honey, especially from the hearts of the sinemis 
blooms, which seemed the sweetest-smelling variety. 
No visitor to Japan should miss spending a few 
hours at Okubo, for surely in no other place in the 
whole world can such a wealth of colour be seen. 
The soil near Tokyo must be especially suited to 
azaleas, as there are many other gardens and parks 
which in this flower month will be gay with their 
blossoms. 

I have mentioned Okubo first, because it is the 



164 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

most celebrated place for azaleas, here every variety 
and colour are collected in one dense mass ; but 
there were many other places where the blossoms 
gave me more true pleasure, and where I spent 
many hours enjoying the scene. 

At Nagaoka, in the neighbourhood of Kyoto, 
many a day have I spent, and I know of no place 
where one can sit more comfortably and peacefully 
lost in admiration and contemplation. Nagaoka 
has a large sheet of water, apparently artificial, 
but beautified by the great bushes of scarlet azalea 
along the shore, and the great splashes of colour 
in the water cast by their reflection. Here they 
are all one variety, with true fiery scarlet blossoms, 
and as I sat in one of the little thatched houses 
built out on piles in the water, great bushes were 
crowding round me; it seemed as though they 
had even cast their rosy hue upon the houses, as 
are not all their walls pink, as if they too reflected 
the colour of the blossoms ? 

I felt I should like to sleep among the azaleas 
and see them in the early dawn, and watch the mist 
clear off the water when the sun's first rays would 
light up their dazzling splendour. But that could 
not be. Nagaoka, after all, is only a restaurant, 
though each party of guests is entertained in a 



AZALEAS, NAGAOKA 



AZALEAS 165 

separate little house. They are frail structures 
these little houses, with only their paper shoji to 
protect one from the chilliness of the night, and 
remember, summer is not yet here ; all through 
the month of May there will be a freshness in the 
air to remind you that spring is not yet gone. 
So to Kyoto we must return; but there was 
plenty of consolation to be found there. 

The gardens of the old Awata Palace were a 
blaze of colour, the azaleas lighting up this beauti- 
ful old landscape garden, which at other seasons of 
the year is apt to look grey and cold and uncared 
for. The garden here is like two separate gardens ; 
the first part, complete in itself, is the work of the 
great Kobori Enshu, and the second part, where 
the azaleas are the glory of the garden, is the work 
of Soami. Standing between the two is a grand 
old lantern, whose history is listened to with rapt 
attention by the little knots of sight-seers who are 
led by the old priest round the garden and up 
through the bank of azaleas to look over the great 
town below, with Hiesan rising in the distance. 

Many a little temple garden is quite transformed 
when the azalea bushes are in flower, their little 
miniature mountain sides are gay with the blossoms ; 
though often the better the gardens are cared for, 



166 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

the fewer the blossoms, as, in order to keep the 
bushes in their regular and prescribed shapes, the 
flowers have to be sacrificed. The little garden of 
Chishaku-in I can recall, as having the brilliant- 
coloured bushes in pleasing contrast to the subdued 
tones of the clipped box and juniper- trees, and 
the greyness of the lichen-covered lanterns and 
mossy stones. No doubt there were many such 
little gardens and also private gardens, but the 
flower month is too short, and one can only visit 
the most favoured places or where chance happens 
to lead one's steps. 

For those who prefer to enjoy the azaleas in 
their wilder state, there are many places where they 
can wander undisturbed and inhale their scent which 
comes wafted on the breeze. I am thinking now 
of Kasuga Park at Nara, where great stretches of 
Azalea sinensis form a brilliant foreground for the 
wistaria-laden trees. Nature seems to have arranged 
a veritable picture, almost too beautiful to be real. 
These gorgeous blossoms shade from delicate 
yellows and pale pink, through to the brightest 
orange and flame colour, growing as the woodland 
scrub. They are not more than a few feet in height, 
possibly their growth has been stunted by the deer ; 
but they form in places a real carpet or clothe the 



AZALEAS 167 

banks of the little streams, their colour vying with 
the splendour of the great temple beyond. 

I had heard so much of the beauty of the cherry 
blossom and wistaria and the glory of the maples, 
and their fame is amply justified ; but no one had 
told me of the beauty of the azaleas, and never had 
I realised how essentially they belong to Japan. 
Throughout the length and breadth of the land 
they seem to grow, and there appeared to be few 
places where one variety or another had not found 
a home. Their pale purple blossoms were hanging 
from the cliffs among the white-flowered andromeda 
bushes late in April, when I paid a flying visit 
to Miyajima, and a few days later I found them 
again on the banks of the canal on my way from 
Otsu. In the country round Hikone the more 
brilliant-coloured forms had found a home, and 
under the old pine-trees, broken here and there 
by a rocky projection, or even a few grey tomb- 
stones of some long - forgotten graveyard, the 
banks were covered with an undergrowth of azaleas. 
Farther north the railway leading to Aomori will 
wind its way through country which at all seasons 
of the year is beautiful, but how far more beautiful 
when the salmon-pink low-growing azalea forms 
an undergrowth to the pine woods ; wherever the 



168 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

trees have been thinned the rocky ravines are 
all lighted up with their colour. The azaleas at 
Nikko and Chuzenji have been described else- 
where, and I feel as if all the country during those 
short weeks will "always be seen in my mind 
through a rosy hue of azalea blossoms/' 



CHAPTER XII 

THE IRIS 

IF I were to be asked which of all the show 
gardens in Japan a garden devoted to the cultiva- 
tion of one especial flower gave me most pleasure 
to visit, I should unhesitatingly answer Hori-kiri, 
the garden of hana shobu or Iris Kaempferi, in the 
neighbourhood of Tokyo. Throughout the month 
of June this garden remains a feast of subdued 
colour ; for the iris is no gaudy, flaunting flower, 
but a delicate blossom shading from pure white, 
through every shade of mauve and lilac to rosy 
purple, and so deep a blue as to be almost black. 
In the first days of June the paths winding through 
the rice fields from the banks of the river Sumida 
will be crowded with sight-seers whose steps are 
all bent in one direction and with the same intent 
to pay their annual visit to Hori-kiri; and 
throughout the month this never-ending stream 

169 22 



170 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

continues from early dawn until the setting of 
the sun or the rising of the moon. Flower- 
sellers there will be too, one perhaps with only a 
modest bunch of half-opened buds in a wooden 
tub shaded from the sun by a large umbrella, not 
the unpicturesque object recalled to our English 
minds by the word umbrella, but one made of pale 
yellow paper, large and flat, with bamboo ribs, 
the owner's name inscribed in bold, black Chinese 
characters or farther on a little stall decked with 
lanterns, and a gay-coloured curtain with some 
device suggestive of the iris ; tiny toys, little fairy 
baskets of split bamboo with just one iris blossom, 
or fans painted with a giant bloom covering the 
whole fan, and other dainty trifles, to carry home 
to the little ones left at home or as a souvenir of 
this iris-land. 

The garden of Hori-kiri must be of very ancient 
date, as the fine old pine-trees, dwarfed and gnarled 
maple and juniper bushes, are not the growth of 
this generation, or even the last. The garden is 
said to date from some three centuries, and to 
be handed down from father to son, always in the 
same family. Nothing could be more perfectly 
laid out for the proper display of its especial flower, 
the shaping of the beds, the placing of the bridges, 



THE IRIS 171 

and even the colouring of the little summer- 
houses in which to entertain their host of guests 
all has been thought out by this artistic family; 
and last, but by no means least, the clothing of the 
little maids who wait on them with untiring zeal 
their kimonos and obis all harmonising in colour. 

I have lingered too long on the surroundings 
of the flowers, and the reader will want to know 
more of this wonderful flower which deserves so 
much attention it does indeed deserve the atten- 
tion, for surely by the middle of the "dew month " 
it is hard to imagine anything more beautiful than 
the scene which meets the eye. Some seventy 
varieties of this king of irises are grown, many 
raised from seed and jealously treasured by the 
owner of the garden. There are early and late 
varieties, three weeks almost between their time 
of flowering, but by the second week in June 
the second blooms of the early varieties will have 
opened and the first blooms of the later ones, so 
the effect is as if all were flowering together ; 
every shoot of the plants seems to bloom ; there 
are no gaps in their serried ranks. The mere 
variety is amazing. Some are pure white, only 
veined with a faint tinge of green ; some have a 
margin of lilac ; some are shaded ; some mottled ; 



172 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

but surely the most beautiful of all is just a great 
single bloom of one shade, be it white, lilac, or blue. 
Many people prefer the duplex flowers with an 
inner row of small petals, but to me this form 
seemed to have lost some of the natural beauty and 
grace of the true iris. I tried to learn something 
of their cultivation, hoping it might be of help 
to those who grow those poor specimens known in 
England as Iris Kaempferi. It is not the plants 
themselves, or the varieties, which are at fault, 
for many thousands of roots leave the Hori-kiri 
garden every year to be scattered throughout the 
world, it would seem to be the soil and climate 
which they resent and stubbornly refuse to adopt ; 
for a few years they linger and even bravely flower, 
and then they begin to pine and droop like some 
poor home-sick mortal pining for his native land. 

August appears to be the especial month for 
dividing the roots or replanting them, so that 
month had better be chosen as the beginning of 
the iris year. The yellowing foliage is ruthlessly 
cut to half its natural height and the plants divided, 
for no clump is ever allowed to grow so large and 
old that it is hollow in the centre ; the outer shoots 
appear to be the strongest, and have most promise 
of bloom for the following year. The beds are 



AN IRIS GARDEN 



THE IRIS 173 

sunk a foot or so below the paths ; and the rich soil 
is like a quagmire, not with standing water, but 
like swampy ground. In November the plants are 
all cut down, in preparation for the first dressing 
of manure in December. The liquid sewage is 
liberally applied, once towards the end of the year, 
and then again after an interval of a few weeks, 
the final dressing being given in January. By 
February the growth has started, and once the 
young leaves appear there can be no more manur- 
ing, or the foliage would suffer. From now until 
the time of flowering, the regulation of the irrigation 
seems to be the chief matter to ensure success in 
their cultivation. Each variety has its own especial 
name, generally with some poetical meaning, but 
difficult for the European ear to grasp, and I 
noticed that, no doubt for the sake of the foreign 
market, all the rows were numbered as well as 
named. 

Do not imagine that this is the only iris garden 
of Japan. There are many others, though I always 
think that Hori-kiri ranks first, not only for 
the beauty of the garden, but the actual flowers 
seem larger and better grown than anywhere 
else. Only a few minutes' drive from Hori-kiri 
will take you to Yoshino-en, celebrated for its 



174 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

wistaria as well as its irises. The ground is larger 
than Hori-kiri and the irises are well grown, but 
as the garden is not devoted entirely to their 
culture the effect is not so pleasing. The whole 
district almost seemed devoted to the culture of 
shobu many, many fields of them I passed ; but 
as they are grown entirely for the sake of cutting 
the blooms for market, there is never any mass of 
colour to be seen. 

The gardens at Kabata, belonging to the Yoko- 
hama Nursery Company, are perhaps the most 
extensive iris gardens in Japan ; I felt almost 
dazzled and bewildered by the very size of the 
grounds acres of irises a beautiful sight; but 
I never derived the same pleasure from it as from 
the smaller garden. The iris is one of the few 
flowers which seems to be allowed to enter into the 
precincts of a true Japanese landscape garden : in 
many a private garden a stream will be diverted 
to feed an iris bed, placed where a piece of swampy 
ground would be most in keeping with the rest of 
the miniature landscape ; or even the margin of a 
tiny lake will be utilised for just a few plants of 
shobu. I remember seeing an old priest tending 
his little colony of irises, which no doubt were 
chosen with great deliberation from a large collec- 



THE IRIS 175 

tion for some especial beauty. How often have 
I seen an old man and woman considering on 
which particular favourite their few sen shall be 
expended, and then departing, the happy possessor 
of a new treasure to add to their little store. My 
friend the priest's collection all grew in pots ; they 
did not look as though they would attain their 
full height and beauty; but as if to reward the 
loving care bestowed on them they all showed 
promise of flower ; and no doubt in due time they 
will have been arranged so as to give the best 
effect and greatest pleasure to their grower. 

I asked a Japanese who, with his little gentle 
wife, was sitting in quiet contemplation and evident 
enjoyment of the scene, to tell me something of 
the flower as it appeals to the Japanese, and he 
said : " We live here in the choicest floral kingdom ; 
and to our mind the flowers are beautiful, and we 
do not ask why or how, the sight of their beauty 
is far more real to us than any meaning which they 
may suggest. You will find no other nation like 
Japan, which loves Nature so truly in her varied 
forms and holds communion with all her aspects ; 
we love the iris as a flower, but as nothing else. 
I cannot make my mind associate it with any 
meaning of zeal or chivalry, nor do I think of it as 



176 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

any messenger ; it appeals to me only as a little 
quiet beauty of the water side, making friends 
with the sadness of the rainy season. In our 
poems the iris is almost inseparable from water ; 
one of our celebrated poetesses has written the 
following seventeen -syllable poem 

Midzu ga kaki, 
Midzu ga kashikeri 
kakitsubata. 

(Water was the painter, 
Water again was the eraser 
Of the beautiful fleur-de-lis.) 

" It is the universal custom throughout Japan to 
celebrate the fifth day of May by hanging bunches 
of shobu beneath the eaves of our houses, and to 
put them into the hot water of the public baths, 
as it is perfectly delicious for the bathers to inhale 
their odour. We also drink sak6 in which they 
have been steeped, on the same day. I felt proud 
to hear that the fleur-de-lis, as I believe you call 
the iris, is the national flower of France, as I like 
to think that it has found a home in the West, and 
when I was told that the flower which was put 
above Solomon's greatest glory was not the lily of 
our country, but that of the iris family, I felt glad 
and agreed with it." 



THE IRIS 177 

The delicate Iris Tectorum would be an immense 
addition to our English flower gardens, if only our 
summers were hot enough to bake their roots 
sufficiently to make them flower. I succeeded in 
making them grow ; they threw up their shoots 
each year, but never one single flower, until at last, 
disgusted, I condemned them, like so many other 
treasures brought from foreign climes, as unsuited 
to our cold grey skies. Late in May these irises 
will be in full bloom and forming a purple spur 
on the top of the thatched straw roofs of the farm- 
houses ; they are generally planted in this way 
(hence their name), and transform the roof ridge 
of many a peasant's dwelling into the aspect of 
a flower garden. Many different reasons are as- 
cribed to their being planted in this manner ; some 
say the irises are planted to avert the evil spirits, 
and there is a superstition that they are efficacious 
in the prevention of disease. There is also a 
legend that during one of the famines that 
devastated the land in olden days an order went 
forth that all cultivated land was to be given up to 
the growing of rice, but that the women of Japan, 
determined to save their iris roots, from which 
their powder (so essential to the toilette of every 
young Japanese lady) is made, planted them on 

23 



178 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

the roofs of their houses. I give the tale with 
all due reserve, as I was never able to verify it, 
nor do I even know for certain that their precious 
shiroi is made from iris roots. 

Other people no less positively affirm the growth to be 
accidental. Others, again, assert that the object is to 
strengthen the thatch. We incline to this latter view ; bulbs 
do not fly through the air, neither is it likely that bulbs 
should be contained in the sods put on the top of all the 
houses in a village* We have noticed, furthermore, that in 
the absence of such sods, brackets of strong shingling are 
employed, so that it is safe to assume that the two are 
intended to serve the same purpose. (Chamberlain's 
Things Japanese.) 

No matter the reason for their being so planted 
be it for protection, be it for the sake of vanity 
or merely for safety the effect is none the less 
charming, and later in the year these little roof 
gardens are sometimes gay with Hemerocallis 
aurantiaca or a stray tuft of scarlet Nerine. 

The true Iris japonica or chinensis is a shade- 
loving plant, with many lavender-coloured flowers 
on a branching stem, each outer petal marked 
with purple lines, and in the centre of the flower 
a deep orange horn. Like so many delicately 
marked flowers, it has a very short life, each 
individual bloom appearing to last only from one 



s 



IRISES 



THE IRIS 179 

sunrise to the next, but the stems bear so many 
blooms that other buds quickly open and fill the 
gap of yesterday's blossom. 

Iris gracilipes seems the commonest and most 
free - flowering of all the irises. In May its 
graceful purple flowers and vivid green grass-like 
foliage seemed to fringe each pond, and the only 
fault I had to find with this form of iris was the 
short duration of its flowering season ; the plants 
bloom so freely they appeared to flower them- 
selves to death, and after one short week their 
slender heads would hide themselves until the 
resurrection of the next "flower month." 

I learnt that the Iris Icevigata, which appears to 
be synonymous with Kampfer's iris, is much used 
as a decoration for ceremonies and congratulatory 
occasions, but on account of its purple colour it is 
not desirable for weddings, though permissible for 
betrothals. It is much honoured in the art of 
flower arrangement, and ranks high among the 
flowers used for the vase on the tokonoma ; and the 
leaves are as much prized as the flowers, lending 
themselves to the bending and twisting required to 
attain the regulation curves. As a rule it is not 
permissible to use the leaves alone of a plant which 
may bear a flower, or the flowerless branches of a 



180 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

shrub which may bear blossoms or berries; but 
Iris japonica seems an exception to this rule, and 
the leaves alone may be used before the flowers 
appear. The first of the ten artistic virtues attri- 
buted to certain special combinations is headed 
in Mr. Conder's list by Simplicity expressed by 
rushes and irises in a two -storey bamboo vase. 
The beautiful arrangement known as Rikkwa 
(double stump arrangement) consists of a com- 
bination of pine, iris, and bamboo grass. 



CHAPTER XIII 

THE MORNING GLORY 

"AsAGAO blooms and fades so quickly, only to 
prepare for the morrow's glory," such is the theme 
of one of the oldest songs on the asagao or morning 
glory, written by the Chinese priest at the temple 
of Obaku near Uji, who is said to have been the 
first person to introduce the flower to Japan. 

It was but a primitive weed when it first came 
from China ; it is only in the land of its adoption 
that it has evolved its thousand varying forms and 
developed into the floral wonder of to-day. It was 
still a semi-barbarous beauty, and had not advanced 
to its present plane, when Kaga no Chiyo wrote 
her well-known morning glory poem, better known 
to us from Sir Edwin Arnold's version 

The Morning Glory, 
Her leaves and bells have bound 
My bucket handle round ; 
181 



182 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

I could not break the bands 

Of those soft hands. 

The bucket and the well to her I left ; 

et Lend me some water, for I come bereft." 



For centuries the asagao in Japan remained the 
same trifling little Chinese flower, only the wild 
morning glory of the bamboo fences in the back 
gardens ; but even then the bright poetesses of the 
Kyoto Court admired it, and the Nara poets sang 
its praises. As they delighted to write of the 
fleeting condition of our human lives, they found 
a congenial subject in the morning glory, for it 
is true that no flower has a briefer life and beauty, 
and the buds of yesterday are flowers to-day, but 
only for a few short hours, and then nothing will 
be left but ruin and decay ; though how quickly 
fresh buds will appear and fresh flowers open to 
be the morrow's " morning glory." 

It was not until the eighteenth century that the 
asagao became fashionable among the Daimyos and 
hatamoto, who worked wonders in its cultivation 
in the rival Yashiki or noblemen's gardens at Yedo. 
Their blossoms developed in size, depth, and variety 
of colour, until suddenly at the close of the 
eighteenth century a spell of cold weather during 
their season of flowering, dwarfed the blossoms and 



THE MORNING GLORY 183 

ruined all the seeds in Yedo. So the asagao 
culture was dropped until the Tempo period (1830). 
Then a revival of interest culminated in the mad 
craze at the time of Commodore Parry's visit, when 
princes, priests and potentates, nobles, hatamoto, 
and gardeners all vied with each other in the 
culture of this flower. Fancy prices were put on 
plants and seeds, as much as fourteen or eighteen 
yen (2s.) being given for one seed of some new 
favourite. Naritaya of Yedo and Tonomura of 
Osaka were rival gardeners, and the latter sent his 
precious flowers to the Yedo show by means of 
relays of coolies, to compete with those grown at 
Yedo. 

The restoration and complete change of social 
conditions were unfavourable to the culture of the 
morning glory, as it again went out of fashion and 
only languished, until its recent revival about 
fifteen years ago, when an asagao club was formed 
and many prominent persons became members. 

To-day the craze has spread among all classes, 
and there is hardly a house more especially in 
Tokyo, but almost throughout the country where 
there are not a few pots of this favourite flower, it 
being within the reach of the poorest in the land ; 
for a few sen the seeds may be procured to raise 



184 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

the plants which are so often grown upon the 
house-top. 

Iriya (an attractive name meaning "Within 
the Valley"), beyond Uyeno Park, is the most 
famous place in Japan for the morning glory; here 
thousands of carefully trained plants of every shade 
and variety of colour, fancy flowers less than half an 
inch in size, in clusters, and shaped like a butterfly 
orchid, and other strange varieties may be seen ; 
some trained in pots over light bamboo frameworks 
representing rustic structures and other quaintly 
designed frames. The gardens are visited by 
hundreds of visitors in the early morning, for it is 
at four o'clock in the morning of a scorching July 
or August day that the plants will look their best : 
the buds will just be opening, the faded flowers of 
yesterday will have fallen, and all will be fresh 
and make you forget the heat of the day that is 
dawning. One of the asagao experts remarked 
to me 

We don't call him an asagao man, however large his 
garden be, however good the other preparations ; the rarest 
asagao, one which makes our mouths water, as we say, comes 
frequently from the hands of a Hachiko or Kumako, and is 
often raised upon the roofs in Nihonbashi or Kyobashi, where 
the ground is too dear for any garden, where we say " one 
handful of ground means one handful of gold." And there's 



THE MORNING GLORY 185 

almost no expense in asagao cultivation. What's needed for 
it is only a little time to spare the little time which you 
can spare from the resting hours or nap-time in the mid- 
summer days. And any common sort of pot which you can 
buy for two or three sen will do just as well. And since it 
is the glory of early morning you have not to prepare any- 
thing, even when you invite your friends ; a cup of tea will 
be sufficient. We hear quite often of cases of chrysanthemum 
parties which were the cause of poverty ; but the asagao is 
not such a vulgar thing at all. And, on the other hand, it 
will make you forget the summer heat. It is the nature of 
the flower to love the intense heat ; in the hot weather you 
have them more beautiful. The asagao man is simply glad 
to have the hottest days : " Surely to-morrow morning's dis- 
play will be a splendour," he will say. He will not lose his 
time in taking a nap, but busy himself arranging the flower 
vines ; and his brain will not suffer from the heat if he wear 
a large hat on the contrary it will feel better. I have seen 
many cases of asagao cultivation curing brain illness. And it 
represents the true spirit of Japanese democracy ; it is such 
an aristocratic flower, like the chrysanthemum. A peer and 
a heimin will equally enjoy it : at the Himpivokwai (asagao 
show) people of every station have equal freedom and en- 
joyment. 



CHAPTER XIV 

THE LOTUS 

THE "time of the lotus" is suggestive of the 
damp hot August days when from earliest dawn 
the cicadas will be singing, if their discordant noise 
can be described as song, and the croaking of the 
frogs day and night, makes one wonder at last 
whether frogs never grow hoarse, or cicadas never 
tire of singing. From the last weeks in July till 
the first weeks of September the lotus will be bloom- 
ing bravely, undaunted by the sun's fierce rays ; 
and the first breath of autumn, which brings 
new life and energy to a human being after the 
heat of the summer, will mean death to the lotus. 
Truly it is a beautiful flower this flower of Buddha, 
as from its close association with the Buddhist 
religion it seems essentially to belong to Buddha. 
The colossal figures known as the Dai butsu at 
Kamakura and Nara sit in immovable calm as 

186 



LOTUS AT KODAIJI 



THE LOTUS 187 

though drawing inspiration from the bronze lotus 
before them ; the silence of their souls is the silence 
of the flowers, and the shape of the open blooms in 
the sunlight is the symbol of Buddha's enlighten- 
ment Every little idol of Buddha, be it hi the 
family shrine or grand and stately temple, sits 
upon a lotus throne ; the temples are all decorated 
with carved lotus or the freshly cut flowers in 
their season ; gold and silver paper lotus are carried 
at funerals ; tombstones are often set upon a stone 
base in the form of a lotus flower, and lotus beds 
are planted near shrines. The mighty feudal lord 
lyeyasu sleeps in the silence of Nikko's crypto- 
merias, hearing only once in a while the long sad 
cry of a great bell, and before him as his only 
companions are the eternally same .bronze lotus 
flowers. So not only is the lotus the especial 
flower of Buddha, but it is also regarded as the 
flower of death, and for that reason it is disliked as 
a decoration for any occasion of rejoicing. 

There is no more beautiful sight than a lotus 
bed at the dawn of a hot August day. Stately 
and yet tender is the beauty of the lotus blossom, 
the great buds opening with a noise which is 
indescribable to one who has not heard it ; and how 
quickly the delicate pink or white petals unfurl, 



188 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

as though hastening to make the most of their 
short life, for before the overpowering heat of the 
August noonday the flower closes, to open once 
more on the morrow and then die a graceful death ; 
the petals dropping one by one, but still retaining 
all the freshness of their colour, and then nothing 
will be left but the great seed pod, very beautiful 
in itself, but not as beautiful as the great bluish- 
green leaves studded with dewdrops, which seem to 
reflect every passing cloud. For the beauty of the 
lotus lies not only in its flowers ; you will begin to 
see the beauty of the plant even when the tender 
young leaves peep out shyly upon the surface of a 
pond in early June; their colour is dark brown, 
and the Japanese call them zeniba from their 
resemblance to the shape of copper money. Then 
day by day the leaves will spread and float out as a 
spirit upon the water, gradually the stalks grow and 
they will get higher and higher, their broad curling 
surfaces losing the bronze colour and turning to 
every shade of soft green and deep emerald ; and so 
through all the scorching summer days they remain 
fresh and cool to look upon, until in October they 
begin to flag, but they will be beautiful even in 
death. The stalks then seem too weak to carry 
their burden any longer, and suddenly, even as one 



LOTUS AT KYOMIDZU 



THE LOTUS 189 

watches them, the stem bends near the top, and 
the great curling leaf will give one last shiver in 
the breeze, topple, and turn over and hang with 
head bent as if in penitence. 

Though the beauty of each individual flower 
may be short-lived, each morning will bring fresh 
buds, which in a few hours open into fresh flowers, 
bringing new beauty to the lotus bed ; so its glory 
lasts for six long weeks. 

For the true lover of the lotus there can be 
scarcely any night, for soon after midnight he must 
rise and start for the lotus pond to see their real 
beauty and hear the opening of the buds with the 
sudden touch of dawn ; so in old days the Japanese 
used to visit the famous Shinobazu pond in Uyeno 
Park, where the little temple dedicated to the 
goddess Benten stands on a small peninsula, as 
though to protect the lake from desecration, 
though if that were her mission she has surely 
failed. Four years before, I too, in the early 
morning, had visited the Shinobazu pond, and 
filled with awe and admiration had spent many 
hours watching the rosy petals open, and the great 
glaucous leaves toss hither and thither with every 
breath of wind, and the iridescent dragon-flies 
darting through the air ; until driven away at last 



190 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

by the overwhelming heat, I had to seek shelter 
from the sun. Again last August I felt I must 
see the lotus at Uyeno in all their glory; but I feel 
ashamed, for the traditions of Japan, to say what 
greeted me. Great staring Exhibition buildings 
in the worst possible taste have been built all along 
the shores of this historical lake. But the worst part 
is still to come : overshadowing the little shrine 
and into the very heart of one of the great stretches 
of lotus leaves dashed a water-chute. It took my 
breath away. I stood spell-bound, and then turned 
away with horror and asked myself, as many other 
people, alas! are asking: "Are the Japanese losing 
all their artistic feelings ? " 

Happily there are still many quiet spots where 
lotus grow, away from the desecrating hand of the 
" new Japan," and there we can sit and enjoy this 
"emblem of purity," its clean fresh flowers and 
leaves rising unsullied from the stagnant mud ; and 
this is one reason for associating it with a religious 
life, or comparing it to the virtuous soul of a woman 
who lives in suspicious surroundings. 

A favourite Buddhist precept says : " If thou 
be born in the poor man's hovel, but hast wisdom, 
then art thou like the lotus flower growing out of 
the mud 1 " 



THE LOTUS 191 

Wherever undisturbed pools and channels of 
muddy water exist, the lotus is to be found : the 
old moats surrounding the remains of a grand old 
Daimyo's castle, the muddy temple or monastery 
ponds, and even the ditches beside the railway, 
will all be rendered gay in the summer, when the 
great pink and white lotus are in bloom. Their 
history is a very old one, for their beauty is sung in 
the old Buddhist sutra, and one passage describing 
the golden glory of Paradise tells of "a pond 
where the lotus flowers large as a carriage- wheel 
grow ; the green flowers shine in green light, the 
yellow flowers in yellow light, red flowers in red 
light, and the white flowers are supreme in beauty 
and odour." 

It may be true that the leaves are as large and 
round as a carriage-wheel of a Japanese carriage, 
a kuruma- y and certainly I should be afraid to 
state rashly how large and high the foliage of the 
white variety may grow. The white Nelumbium 
spedosum, for all the so-called lotus of Japan are 
really this species of water-lily, has a powerful and 
sweet perfume ; but the pink ones, which are far 
more beautiful, have but little scent. I think the 
leaves and their stems, as well as the flower, must 
have their own peculiar odour ; for often I noticed 



192 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

near lotus beds, where no blossoms were to be 
seen, a strong and rather sickly perfume came 
floating in the air in whiffs which will always be 
associated in my mind with lotus, as I cannot 
compare their scent to that of any other flower. 

There are other varieties, one a deep crimson 
colour and one called "gold-thread lotus," but 
these are seldom seen. The Indian lotus has a 
larger double flower, deep pink in colour, which 
never closes day or night, and the blooms last in 
beauty for five or six days. In India, the source 
and centre of Buddhism, the lotus has been chosen 
as a national flower, and Burmah also is famed 
for its lotus; so wherever Buddhism makes its 
presence felt, there you will find the lotus. Sir 
Monier Williams says that "its constant use as 
an emblem seems to result from the wheel-like 
form of the flower the petals taking the place 
of spokes, and thus typifying the doctrine of 
perpetual cycles of existence." 

The lotus is a favourite subject with the Japanese 
artist in conjunction with the mandarin duck and 
other water-fowl, and so faithfully do the Japanese 
represent their flowers that each vein in the leaves 
seems to be depicted if not exaggerated. Mr. 
Parsons admirably describes the lotus, and also 



THE LOTUS 193 

this form of exaggeration and mannerism in their 



Take for example the spots on the lotus stems ; if you 
look very closely you can see that there are spots, but 
certainly it could not strike every artist as a marked feature 
of the plant, for they are not visible three yards away. But 
some master noticed them many years ago and spotted his 
steins, and now they all spot them, the spots getting bigger 
and bigger ; and so it will be until some original genius arises 
who will not be content with other people's eyes, but will 
dare to look for himself, and he may perhaps, without 
abandoning Japanese methods, get nearer to nature, and 
start a renaissance in Japanese art. 

He also remarks 

The lotus is one of the most difficult plants which it 
has ever been my lot to try to paint : the flowers are at 
their best only in the early morning, and each blossom, after 
it has opened, closes again before noon of the first day ; on 
the second day its petals drop. The leaves are so large and 
so full of modelling that it is impossible to generalise them 
as a mass, each one has to be carefully studied, and every 
breath of wind disturbs their delicate balance and com- 
pletely alters their forms. Besides this, their glaucous surface, 
like that of a cabbage leaf, reflects every passing phase of 
the sky, and is constantly changing in colour as clouds pass 
over. 

Such is an artist's true appreciation. 

No honour seems too great for this flower of 
Buddha, and we are told that you will be per- 
mitted, if you are fortunate enough to be among 

25 



194 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

those who are admitted into Nirvana, or Paradise, 
to sit upon the lotus throne, leaving behind the 
dirt and dust of the world. In the days of old 
Japan, when the religious influence was stronger, 
and far more romantic than it is to-day, to sit 
together upon the lotus throne in Paradise was 
the customary dream of two lovers who wished to 
commit suicide. 

Another honour for the lotus is that the 
Japanese dedicate their wonderful and awe-inspir- 
ing mountain Fuji-san to it, and call it Fugo 
Ho, meaning Lotus Peak. Thousands of their 
poets have sung praises of this lotus peak, but to 
our minds the words of Mrs. M'Neill Fenollosa 
will be easier to understand : " Now far beyond 
the grayness, to the west, the cone of Fuji flashes 
into splendour. It, too, is pink ; its shape is the 
shape of a lotus bud, and the long fissures that 
plough the mountain-side are now but the delicate 
gold veining of a petal. Slowly it seems to open. 
It is the chalice of a new day, and the pledge of 
consecration." It would seem as though the 
opening of the lotus flower is the signal of the 
awakening of summer dawn and the opening of 
a new day. 

In Chinese literature there is a legend of Teiko 



LOTUS FLOWERS 



THE LOTUS 195 

who gathered his guests together on a midsummer 
day and put wine in the lotus leaves and let his 
guests drink it from the stems of the leaves. A 
truly romantic feast. 

In Japan the leaves are used for dishes at the 
Soul's Festival in July ; the dead spirits who 
return to this world from Hades are supposed to 
eat the offerings from the leaf dishes. The 
Japanese have a delicacy called hasu meshi hasu 
meaning lotus, meshi, rice consisting of the young 
and tender lotus leaves chopped fine and cooked 
with rice. They also eat the little fruit of the 
lotus, no larger than a pebble, which, contrary to 
most fruit, can be eaten raw when it is unripe, 
but gets so terribly hard as it ripens that it has to 
be cooked. The dried leaves seem to be valued 
as a drug, and also the vegetable -sellers wrap 
their vegetables in them. All this is too un- 
romantic to be associated with the lotus, and I was 
better pleased to hear of. the Japanese phrase 
ben po, meaning lotus step, which they associate 
with the light step of a beautiful woman. A 
pretty story of old China is told of the Lord 
Tokonko of the province Sei, who was extravagant 
in the extreme. He had as his mistress a lovely 
girl called Han hi. One day he made lotus petals 



196 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

of real gold and scattered them in his garden ; 
then he called out to his mistress to let her step 
on them, and he was very happy to see his fair lady 
and his gold flowers equally well matched in 
beauty. Truly Han hi's "lotus step" must have 
been a wonder. 

In saying farewell to the time of the lotus I 
feel I cannot do better than quote Mrs. Fenollosa's 
charming poem 

For years, long years ago, on lake and river, 
The lotus bloomed, with petals curl on curl 

Close folded ; and to full perfection never 
Had opened wide those lattices of pearl. 

Like fair white maids with finger-tips a-meeting, 
Like wordless song unwed to music's art, 

They pierced the stream each morn in pallid greeting ; 
Then shrank in silence, for they had no heart. 

Above them, nightly, stars would lean, and hover 
With gifts of whisper-rays, and kisses long ; 

But all in vain, till one transcendent lover 

Slid down from heaven among the startled throng. 

At morn the flowers stood still like pale nuns hushing 
But one among them throbbed her sweetness far, 

Like arms outspread the full- veined petals flushing, 
For in her trembling heart there lay a star. 

And since that hour the sky rains lovers ever ; 

All day they rock within that soft embrace. 
At night the petals close ; the stars up-quiver, 

And sighing, seek their old accustomed place. 



CHAPTER XV 

THE CHRYSANTHEMUM 

"SEE a kiri leaf fallen on the ground arid know 
that autumn is with us " is a common saying in 
Japan. The leaves of the kiri (pawlonia) tree are 
so responsive to the spirit of autumn, which 
advances steadily till we see no garden flowers, no 
wild flowers, and have no longer the song of the 
insects, and one cannot fail to be impressed with 
some touch of sorrow ; but the Japanese take 
sheer delight in the sadness of autumn, for soon 
the white frosts will be thick upon the ground 
and will turn the leaves of the maples on the 
mountain-side into a blaze of scarlet and gold, 
and then the kiku or chrysanthemum flowers 
will open. 

The chrysanthemum has often been called the 
national flower of Japan, a rank more properly 
belonging to the cherry blossom ; the mistake 

197 



198 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

arises from the fact that the sixteen - petalled 
chrysanthemum is the Imperial emblem. The 
Japanese give a poetical reason for the choice of 
this especial flower as the Emperor's crest : as in 
olden days the chrysanthemum used to be called 
Kukuri liana or " Binding Flower," because as the 
blossoms tie or gather themselves together at the 
top, so the Mikado binds himself round the hearts 
and souls of his people ; and it is a coincidence that 
the present Emperor's birthday falls in the kiku 
month (November). For a thousand years the 
chrysanthemum was admired as a retired beauty 
by the garden fence and under a simple mode of 
culture ; but it became the flower of the rich to a 
great extent under the Tokugawa feudal regime, and 
of late years the culture of kiku or chrysanthemum 
is the greatest luxury. It would probably surprise 
one to know how much Count Okuma and Count 
Sakai, the two best known chrysanthemum raisers 
in Japan, spend annually upon their plants ; and 
many other people have found the reason of their 
poverty in kiku culture. Though one cannot but 
admire any advance in horticulture, carried to such 
an extent it seems to me merely a degeneration, 
and this "retired nobleman of flowers" (the 
Japanese call their kiku one of the sikunshi or four 



CHRYSANTHEMUMS, KYOTO 



THE CHRYSANTHEMUM 199 

floral gentlemen, the other floral gentlemen being 
the plum, bamboo, and ran or orchid) will grow 
quite as well, and attain as great perfection, in some 
little humble dwelling which has only a miniature 
garden, provided the necessary time and care, not 
money, is given to the plants. 

The chrysanthemum has always been much 
honoured by the Imperial Court, and even in the 
ninth century garden parties were held in the 
Palace gardens to do honour to the blossoms, even 
as in the present day a yearly chrysanthemum 
party is held in the Imperial grounds. In ancient 
days the guests sat drinking wine and composing 
odes to the blossoms, and the courtiers adorned 
their hair with friku flowers, at these pastoral feasts. 
To-day these modern displays of chrysanthemum 
plants partake of our own conventional flower 
shows, the plants being arranged somewhat formally 
in long open rustic sheds ; but the variety of colour, 
every imaginable shade being produced, and the 
profusion of form, also the immense size of 
some of the plants, one alone a few years ago 
bearing 1272 blooms, make a brilliant scene, 
different from any other flower show in the world ; 
for where else would the plants have such a setting 
as in these beautiful Asakasa grounds, where the 



200 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

gorgeous colour of the maples rivals that of the 
chrysanthemums. 

From an artistic point of view there is nothing 
to admire in the great chrysanthemum show which 
opens yearly at Dangozaka in Tokyo, and one 
cannot but agree with the poet Hoichi Shonin, 
who says 

What an inferior heart of man I 

Lo ! a waxwork chrysanthemum show ! 

However, one must admit the cleverness and some 
sort of art in these show pieces ; and one cannot 
fail to be interested if only by watching the 
expectant faces of the thousands or tens of 
thousands of people who visit these different little 
shows. How the children's faces beam when they 
approach the place and see the thousands of flags 
and lanterns, gaily coloured curtains and stalls 
decorated with souvenirs in every conceivable form, 
of the day among the kiku flowers. The people 
are so enthusiastic over these puppet shows, 
which may be a scene from an old play, an act 
from history, or, most interesting of all, the 
newest occurrences of the day, all represented in 
chrysanthemums 1 In order to make the figures 
pot plants are used, not cut flowers, but splendid 
plants in full bloom, genuine plants, the roots of 



THE CHRYSANTHEMUM 201 

which are skilfully hidden or disguised. The colours 
of the flowers will be combined to represent the 
dresses, and indeed it is very interesting to see the 
figures being prepared in October when the plants 
are in bud, for each separate bud will be tied to 
the skeleton frame so that when the blossoms are 
open they form a compact mass of colour ; and it 
is also very striking to notice the harmony of the 
colours, and then the bold lines made by a contrast 
of colour. 

A year or two ago there was nothing more 
popular than war scenes of the Russian and 
Japanese campaign. One scene which has remained 
green in the memory of many a Japanese was the 
representation of the blocking of the harbour at 
Port Arthur, with Captain Hiroze, that valiant 
officer, and his fellow keshitai (determined to die) as 
the characters. It was composed of two thousand 
chrysanthemum roots ; upon a sea of the royal 
flowers, dark coloured at the heart and rising to 
sprays of snow white, to form the crests of the 
waves and tossing billows, rode the boat manned by 
the heroes. The second scene was a tribute to the 
enemy : it represented the stalwart white-bearded 
Russian Admiral Makaroff, who, standing on the 
bridge, sword in hand, went down with his ship a 

26 



202 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

veritable storm of white flowers, dashed with red, 
and here and there a few sailors groping blindly. 
There was yet another show which represented the 
night after the great battle of Lia Yang, when the 
spirits of the dead soldiers appeared, all flower-clad, 
\vith white swords in their hands, with which to 
salute the sleeping fighters. Every year the 
showmen find some new subject in order to keep 
up the people's interest. Besides these dramatic 
shows, there are splendid specimen plants ; and 
what I always admired about the large plants in 
Japan was the perfect foliage, the rather dwarfed 
growth, and the way in which all the blossoms on 
the plant open together. There is a plant called 
" Good Luck " bearing a thousand flowers, all from 
a single root, which is a great favourite, and 
certainly it is nothing short of a horticultural 
wonder. Their fancy names seemed very poetical, 
and I cannot refrain from quoting a few, with 
their translation, in the words of a Japanese 

" Look at the ' Princesses of the Blood ' in a 
long stately row, tall and graceful, their proud 
flowers resplendent and white as the driven snow ; 
or here is Ake-no-sora, 'the Sky at Dawn,' with a 
pale pink flower the colour of cherry blossoms ; or 
Asa M no nami, * Waves in the Morning Sun,' 



THE CHRYSANTHEMUM 203 

because it has a pale reddish blossom ; also Yu Id 
kage, * Shadows of the Evening Sun,' with dull red 
blooms ; and finally the pure white ' Companions of 
the Moon,' Tsuki-no-tomo" There appeared to be 
over 150 of these poetical flowers. 

But do not imagine that it is only in the gardens 
of the rich or arranged as waxwork puppet shows 
that you will find chrysanthemums, for surely, if 
that were the case, little pleasure would be derived 
from their beloved kiku. It has been said of the 
Japanese, "It is not the plant he loves, but the 
effect that the plant enables him to attain." This 
may be true of plants in relation to the landscape 
garden, where everything must be according to the 
rubric or laws of gardening, but surely it is not 
true of chrysanthemum plants. Many an enthusiast 
have I known to whom his kiku was his most 
valued and cherished possession, and daily were the 
" Plants of the Four Seasons " (a fancy name for 
chrysanthemums on account of their period of 
growth extending through all the seasons) tended 
with loving hands. We are told of a great man in 
the days of the Min dynasty who, tired of struggling 
with the world and life, gave up his rank and 
retired to some forgotten spot, entirely in order to 
enjoy the sight of the chrysanthemum in his garden 



204 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

and a jug of wine ; and the greatest delight of his 
life was to see the flowers bedewed in the morning 
light, and to exchange his poet's faith and love with 
this " nobleman of flowers." Perhaps in these days 
when the curse of modern civilisation is spreading 
throughout the land we shall not see many such 
enthusiasts as Yen Mei ; but there are still many 
chrysanthemum lovers, many to whom the first 
week in November is the best week of the year. 
Just as the Japanese admire the flower for its noble 
bearing, so did I admire the bearing of their 
owners ; however humble the dwelling, however 
small the collection, the proud possessor seemed 
always to be one of " Nature's noblemen " ; never 
did I encounter such warm and true hospitality 
combined with dignity and grace as during the 
kiku month from my chrysanthemum hosts. One 
scene especially seems to have remained graven 
into my memory, in that land of surprises. 

A friend offered to take me to see some 
especially fine chrysanthemums ; their owner, he 
said, was celebrated for their culture; and he led 
me through the whole length and breadth of the fish 
market, I imagined only in order to make a short 
cut to our destination, but no ! we stopped in front 
of a large fish -stall, and at the magic word kiku 



A CHRYSANTHEMUM GARDEN 



THE CHRYSANTHEMUM 205 

the owner's face beamed with delight, for surely 
here was a fellow-enthusiast, even though she is 
a " foreigner," come to admire his beloved flowers. 
He signed to me to thread my way past the some- 
what unappetising-looking fish, and, as though at 
the touch of a fairy wand, the scene changed. A 
paper shutter slid back and the beauty revealed 
beyond surpassed anything that mortal could 
imagine little corners and flashes of loveliness in 
all directions. At the very entrance were grouped 
a few splendid plants, each bloom perfection 
itself, and then with cries of " Irasshai irasshai " 
(Welcome, welcome) and the regulation greeting 
of " Please come in, my house is yours " from 
every side, I entered, crossing the cool matting, 
past a tiny court filled with the treasured plants 
and adorned with a hanging iron lantern which 
filled my soul with envy, through the spotless 
rooms with the alcove and the regulation kakemono 
and the tokonoma on which stood a flower arrange- 
ment of Baka sakura (" Fool Cherry," because it has 
come into flower at the wrong season), to the court 
beyond, where stood the famous collection. The 
whole scene diffused a feeling of perfect content- 
ment as I sat upon the regulation fukusa in the 
place of honour, the place corresponding to the 



206 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

" Stone of Contemplation " of every Japanese 
garden, the one spot from which the whole effect 
is seen to best advantage. The plants were 
grouped in front of the family shrine, and to protect 
them from the autumn storms a light roofing of 
paper and bamboo had been erected ; the little 
garden contained a few stepping-stones, a bronze 
water basin, a few lanterns, and to screen off any 
possible view of anything suggestive of fish was 
a delicate bamboo screen-fence. The blossoms 
seemed to represent every colour, shape, and size 
that it was possible for a chrysanthemum to assume, 
all perfectly grown plants. Some varieties were 
quite new to me tall, slender-growing stems 
crowned with little fluffy blossoms not suggesting 
the usual form of a chrysanthemum ; another, which 
when fully developed would form a complete 
pyramid of closely packed petals of a dark crimson 
hue, was awarded the place of honour, as there 
were only two other plants of the same kind in all 
Japan. I noticed some plants bearing a label 
which differed from any others, and then I was told 
that each year a special messenger is sent by the 
Emperor to choose a few plants from this humble 
fishmonger's garden to be added to the Imperial 
collection. The labelled plants formed this year's 



THE CHRYSANTHEMUM 207 

offering to his Mikado, and small wonder they were 
the pride of the house ; and I too was impressed by 
the feeling that in the floral kingdom, as in a 
Higher Kingdom, all men are equal, as the kiku 
flowers had grown as well, if not better, in this 
lowly dwelling as in the Emperor's vast domains. 

I cannot recall any incident during all my stay in 
Japan which gave me morfc pleasure than my visit 
to this humble home, and s I left, laden with little 
kiku cakes and with the prescribed compliments, 
obeisances, and sincere admiring exclamations over 
the flowers, I had every intention of availing 
myself of the repeated invitations to " Please come 
again." The plants one day were in their full glory, 
the great heads of perfect blossom had only just 
attained perfection, when I was told that this was 
to be their last day of life, on the morrow every 
plant would be cut down. I exclaimed in horror 
at this apparent slaughter of the innocents in their 
prime of life, but it was explained to me that the 
sacrifice was necessary in order to secure the 
cuttings for the next year's plants. I could not 
help thinking that if 1 had nursed the cherished 
plants all through the year, shading them from the 
intense heat of summer on the house-top, never 
allowing them to know the want of water, I could 



208 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

not have spared the blossoms in their prime even 
for the sake of the next year's growth. 

Many another peaceful little garden I can recall 
where I was welcomed with all the grace and 
hospitality suggestive of Old Japan, and to this 
day apparently inseparable from the lovers of 
chrysanthemums. Two neighbours vied with each 
other in kiku culture, their houses only separated 
by a few yards. In one, an old man, whose bearing 
and manners suggested the Daimyo of olden days, 
sat as if he too, tired of the world, had retired with 
the sole companionship of his plants. Very lovely 
was his tiny garden, with the plants just grouped 
in front of the two rooms which constituted his 
entire house, and there he sat in quiet contempla- 
tion, or bowing low to meet some new-comer who 
had come to admire his flowers, and all seemed 
welcome, strangers and friends alike, as long as 
they loved the blossoms. Here might be seen the 
great sun-like Nihon Ichi ("First in Japan "), white 
and yellow ; and there is Haruna Kasumi, like its 
name, suggesting spring haze, or Natsu gumo 
(" Summer Clouds ") ; but with all this infinite 
variety I noticed that, like in China, where by " the 
yellow flower" is meant the chrysanthemum of 
that country, so here in Japan, the yellow blossoms 



CHRYSANTHEMUMS 



V j 



THE CHRYSANTHEMUM 209 

seemed the most prized, though the pure white is 
a close rival for popularity, their blooms thick with 
the morning dew reminding us of the fairy who 
lived only by sipping the dews upon the kiku 
flowers. How beautiful, too, are these white 
blossoms in death when the frost has made their 
petals turn slowly to a crimson colour. 

Across the road I found another little sanctuary, 
another home for the flowers. Here a tiny tea-room 
was the point of vantage, and from there I gazed, 
sipping tea from the daintiest of tiny cups. What an 
ideal place to sit and meditate and wonder over the 
goodness of things ! Below was the rocky bed of a 
stream, but it was a dry river-bed, only white pebbles 
represented the stream, and on the banks were 
grouped the plants, forming a sheet of colour gioat 
gorgeous blossoms, not of such mammoth and 
unnatural proportions as our show blooms, but 
every kind were here, single, loose, or double; 
stiff, flopping, or erect; borne in a veritable 
harvest. 

Yet another humble dwelling I remember where 
the plants were grouped with consummate art. In 
every garden there should be a keynote in the 
scheme, and here the keynote was the view of 
Hieisan : framed between the blossoms, which grew 

27 



210 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

in a great foaming mass, rose the great mountain, 
as though it were the guardian of the garden. 
The plants had brilliantly rewarded a loyal 
devotion, and as I turned away I realised the 
manner in which Japanese love their flowers. 

As I sat admiring their gardens, my friends told 
me many fairy stories and legends connected with 
the kiku. Perhaps one of the prettiest is called 
"The Chrysanthemum Promise." Samon Hase, a 
scholar and samurai, offered a night's lodging to a 
gentleman from the western country, and his guest 
suddenly fell ill. Samon promised the sick man to 
give him every help : " Be easy in your thought. 
Above all, be not discouraged ! " The sick man 
was Soemon Akana, who had been with a friend on 
a mission which failed, and his friend was killed, and 
he was on his way home when he fell ill. Samon 
and Soemon quickly became friends, and finally they 
promised to be as brothers to each other. The 
latter stayed until he grew well ; and then he said 
he must go back to his native province of Izume, 
but promised that he would return again and stay 
with Samon for the rest of his days. He said 
firmly that the day of the chrysanthemum feast 
(ninth of September in the old calendar) would be 
the day of his return. 



THE CHRYSANTHEMUM 

September came, and on the ninth Samon rose 
early to make preparations for his returning brother. 
The sun began slowly to set, but Soemon did not 
come. Samon thought he would retire to bed, but 
as he looked out once more into the night he 
noticed that the moon was hiding behind the hill, 
and he saw a curious black shadow coming towards 
him with the wind. It was Soemon Akana. 

Samon made his brother sit by the chrysanthe- 
mum vase in the place of honour, and Akana said, 
" I have no word to express my thanks for your 
kindness. But pray listen, and do not doubt me : 
1 am not a living person but only a shadow " ; and 
he told how he had been put in prison, but finding 
no other means of escape he killed himself. " As 
I was told," he said, "that a spirit could travel 
a thousand miles a day, so I killed myself, and 
rode on the wind to see you on this day of my 
chrysanthemum promise." I felt if this legend 
were taught in the schools of to-day a moral 
might be pointed with advantage on the subject of 
keeping appointments and promises, which is not 
a strong point with the modern Japanese. 

There is another pretty story of two brothers 
who had always lived together in the north of 
Japan. The time came for them to separate, and 



FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

when the younger one was about to start on his 
journey south, they wept bitterly, and said that 
each would keep the half of a chrysanthemum 
plant in memory of the other, and thereby recall the 
happy days they had spent together. The brothers 
afterwards planted the halves in two gardens, one 
in the north, the other in the south ; but the 
blossoms, it is said, kept the original shape of the 
half of a chrysanthemum for ever. 

The chrysanthemum is so associated with the 
story of O Kiku, the little maid of Himeji, in the 
province of Banshu, that I feel I cannot do better 
than tell it in the words of Lafcadio Hearn 

Himeji contains the ruins of a great castle of thirty 
turrets ; and a daimyo used to dwell therein, whose revenue 
was one hundred and fifty-six thousand koku of rice. Now, 
in the house of one of that daimyo's chief retainers was a 
maid-servant of good family, whose name was O Kiku ; and 
the Kiku signifies a chrysanthemum flower. Many precious 
things were entrusted to her charge, and among other things 
ten costly dishes of gold. One of these was suddenly missed 
and could not be found; and the girl, being responsible 
therefor, and knowing not otherwise how to prove her 
innocence, drowned herself in a well. But ever thereafter 
her ghost, returning nightly, could be heard counting the 
dishes slowly, with sobs : Ichi-mai, Ni-mai, San-mai, Yo-mai, 
Go-mai, Roku-mai, Shichi-mai, Hachi-mai, Ku-mai. 

Then there would be heard a despairing cry and a loud 
burst of weeping, and again the girl's voice counting the 



THE CHRYSANTHEMUM 213 

dishes plaintively : " One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, 
eight, nine." 

Her spirit passed into the body of a strange little insect, 
whose head faintly resembled that of a ghost with long 
dishevelled hair ; and it is called O kiku-mushi, or the " fly 
of O Kiku"; and it is found, they say, nowhere save in 
Himeji. A famous play was written about O Kiku, which is 
still acted in all the popular theatres, entitled Banshu-O- 
Kiku -no- Sara -Ya-shiki, or "The Manor of the Dish of 
O Kiku of Banshu." 

But there are people who say that Banshu is 
Bancho, an ancient quarter of Tokyo (Yedo). 
The people of Himeji claim, however, that part 
of their city now called Go-Ken- Yashiki is the 
site of the ancient manor of the story. And it is 
deemed unlucky to cultivate chrysanthemums in 
Go- Ken- Yashiki. 



CHAPTER XVI 

THE MAPLE LEAVES 

THE Japanese quite rightly give the name of Ko 
haru or Little Spring to the Indian summer, Keats's 
season of mists and mellow fruitfulness ; for indeed 
those beautiful weeks in November are incompar- 
able, the heavy damp heat of the summer has 
lifted, the sky is clear and blue, the atmosphere is 
light, and the freshness of spring seems to have 
returned to revive the dying year. They say, 
" Here is the right end, since we had a right 
start." These fortunate people who rejoice in the 
beauty of spring beginning with the plum blossoms 
born out of the frost, now have the autumn with 
the momiji or maple leaves to complete the floral 
season, and the red leaves will be the beauty of 
the maturing year. Autumn weaves her red and 
gold brocade and spreads it on mountain and tree, 
the whole country being alight with the scarlet 



214 



THE SCARLET MAPLE 



*H J& 



Wdfc 




THE MAPLE LEAVES 215 

and gold of the momiji ; for not only the maples 
are called momiji, but any tree whose leaves turn 
red in their last moment of life. 

Throughout the land there are favourite places 
where the holiday-maker holds his maple- viewing 
feast. The trees at Nikko are probably the first 
to turn, and by the middle of October this little 
mountain village will be visited by a throng of 
sight-seers, all bent on viewing the red leaves ; 
and here truly not only the maples, but every 
tree seems to wear its mantle of autumn brocade, 
making a splendid contrast to the bronze green 
of the cryptomerias. The first touch of frost will 
have made the trees blush, so the Japanese say it 
being a favourite expression of theirs, when a blush 
of modesty spreads over a girl's cheeks, to say that 
"she scatters red leaves on her face," and then 
will come the first light fall of snow or a rude wind 
storm and scatter all the silent beauty of the valley. 
If you would continue your maple feast, you must 
go farther south, say to Oji near Tokyo, where 
you will find a whole glen filled with nothing but 
maples. No other momiji will dispute their fiery 
splendour ; and there, in a little rustic tea-shed, you 
can sit and gaze at the gorgeous scene below, and 
wonder whether it is more beautiful to see the 



216 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

leaves like lace-work against the sky, or to look 
down on the great spreading branches shading the 
stream below. Here and there will be a tree that 
does not deserve the name of momiji, for it has 
no red leaves. Possibly it is a descendant of the 
celebrated maple -tree of the Shomeiji temple at 
Mutsuura, which turned a glorious colour when 
summer had scarcely waned, in order to earn the 
praise of the poet Chunagon Tamesuke, who went 
to seek the beauties of the early maple. The tree 
being fully satisfied with the admiration of the 
poet, remained green for ever after ; for did not 
the poet say 

How did this one tree thus get coloured ? 

This one garden maple-tree 

Showing Autumn before the mountain trees ! " 

It is always said that the poetical spirit of 
Tamesuke moved the responsive heart of the 
maple-tree. 

Kyoto, the old capital, with its history of 
centuries, is celebrated for the numerous places 
renowned for maple- vie wing. All through the 
early part of November there is feasting, combined 
possibly with mushroom - gathering, a favourite 
pastime connected with the viewing of the momiji. 
Near by there is Tsuten Bridge, where the sound 



THE MAPLE LEAVES 217 

of revelry will greet you as you approach, and there 
will be the inevitable little tea -stalls, decorated 
with curtains printed with a few flaunting maple 
leaves, lanterns ornamented with the same red leaves, 
and branches of the trees adorned with red and 
yellow paper leaves ; bearing a streamer with the 
name of the place, or possibly a diminutive paper 
lantern, to carry away as a souvenir of the day's 
feasting. If you want a wider field and more 
extensive view, remember Takao is waiting in all 
its glory to greet you ; there a great stream of colour 
winds away down the valley following the course 
of the little mountain torrent. You must rise 
early for maple-viewing, to see the trees while the 
sun is on them ; when the sun goes it seems as 
though he takes half the beauty of the momiji 
away with him, only to return it on the morrow, 
it is true, if the clear bright days will last through 
the short season of the momiji. Any night a cruel 
frost may come, and next day the ground will 
be covered with a scarlet carpet, reminding one 
of the story of that great lover of maple leaves, 
the Emperor Takakura-no-In. He planted the 
maple-trees at Kita-no-Jin, and called the spot 
Momiji Yama or Maple-leaf Hill. His great 
delight was to see the red leaves which carpet 

28 



218 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

the ground with autumn glory. One morning his 
unpoetical gardeners swept away the fallen leaves, 
and the officers of the Imperial household were 
awestruck, as they were sure the Emperor would 
visit the hill to see the red leaves which might 
have been cast down by the night wind. He 
went to the hill, and the officers appealed to him 
to have pity on the gardeners' ignorance. " It 
reminds me," said the Emperor, "of the famous 
verse by Hi Tai Haku which runs 

We will warm the wine under the maple-trees ; 
We will burn up the maple leaves." 

Such is the song of autumn : " how lovely the 
gardeners' hearts in gathering the leaves to warm 
their hearts and wine." So not only was the 
stupidity of the gardeners excused, but happily 
their action was approved. Had the gardeners 
such poetical hearts ? I doubt it ; rather, how 
forgiving was the heart of the Emperor. 

Arashi Yama must not be omitted from the 
maple- viewing feast. Here the beauties of Nature 
summon us twice a year in spring to visit the 
cherry blossoms, in autumn to view the momiji. 
At the latter season the trees are dressed in red, 
and the water will be red too, so thickly is it 
carpeted with the fallen leaves. If one takes a 



THE MAPLE LEAVES 219 

boat to cross the water one feels ashamed to see 
the rent it makes in the "autumn brocade," for 
the boat will cut a track right through the thin 
carpet of leaves, of which the poet says 

The hurdle that the wind has built 
Over the mountain river, 
Is nothing but the maple leaves 
Not run down the stream. 

At Mino there are nothing but maples as far 
as the eye can reach, on and on down the glen, 
an incredible blaze of colour. But it was not in 
these great masses, though no one can deny their 
gorgeous splendour, that the maple gave me most 
pleasure ; it was rather in some quiet garden 
away from the sound of feasting that a few trees 
of the choicer and therefore even more brilliant 
coloured varieties afforded me most enjoyment. I 
am thinking now of a warm November day when 
I had been bidden to take part in a tea ceremony, 
with all its quaint ceremonial and code of rules. 
Sitting in the little simple open tea-room for does 
not the law forbid any elaborate decoration in the 
room set apart for tea ceremonies, and must not 
the room always be open on one, if not two sides ? 
while trying to conform to the rigid etiquette of 
this pretty ceremony of drinking tea in a preter- 



220 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

naturally slow manner, when it was no longer my 
turn to admire in regulation words one of the 
articles used in the tea-making, my eye wandered 
to the scene outside, where, hanging over a 
miniature cascade, adding effect to the tiny 
rushing torrent, stood the maple-trees, surely the 
brightest I had ever seen. Maple-trees are most 
necessary for the Japanese landscape garden, 
especially when, as is usually the case, the style of 
the garden is to reproduce natural scenery. The 
Japanese have a saying that autumn comes from 
the west, therefore the maple-tree, the true repre- 
sentative of autumn, should be planted on a hill 
towards the west, so that it will welcome autumn 
promptly, and also in order that the reddening 
leaves may receive additional splendour from the 
setting sun. Here, in the glow of the western sun, 
it seemed incredible that the little trees were only 
clad in leaves, not in flowers, for their colour was 
as bright as, if not brighter than, the brilliant azaleas 
which had been the pride of the garden in the 
flower month of May. 

The nursery gardens are gay with splendid 
specimens of the much-prized dwarf maple-trees, 
and every lover of these little trees will have a 
few plants of momiji in his collection. Some there 



THE MAPLE LEAVES 221 

may be which had, as it were, been born with 
scarlet leaves in spring the leaves having opened 
a fiery red, their colour waning as the year wanes ; 
others which had only green leaves in the spring 
will, like true momiji, have got more and more 
fiery in colour until the shadow of death comes 
over them. Innumerable varieties there appeared 
to be, distinguished by the shape of their leaves 
and the tone of their colour. 

The changing life of the maple, Miss Scidmore 
tells us, has been made use of by "the Japanese 
coquette, who sends her lover a leaf or branch of 
maple to signify that, like it, her love has changed." 
If you call a Japanese baby and it opens its tiny 
hand, they call it " a hand of maple leaf." 

Throughout November the whole land is 
redolent of momiji ; not only will the red leaves 
on the trees greet you at every turn, but you will 
be offered tea out of little cups painted with just 
one red leaf, the cakes represent maple leaves, the 
Geishas will all have soft crepe kimonos decked 
with a pattern of the flaunting leaves, or their 
stiff silk obis will represent Nature's " autumn 
brocade." In the theatres the romantic play called 
Momiji gari, or Maple-leaf Viewing, is played, 
the stage being gorgeously decorated with maple- 



222 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

trees. Possibly because it is the last flower- 
viewing feast of the year, the momiji-viewmg is 
almost the most popular, and when the last leaf 
falls the feasters will have to rest until the plum 
blossoms are opening, as Nature even in this land 
of flowers must take her winter's rest. 



CHAPTER XVII 

THE BAMBOO 

WHAT would the Japanese do without the bamboo ? 
Indeed so extensive is the part played by the 
bamboo, not only in the beautifying of the land, 
but in her domestic economy, that the question is 
rather, what does it not do ? The number of 
species of bamboo in Japan at present is stated 
to be fifty, not including numerous other varieties 
and sports ; among them thirty-nine are indigenous, 
and the others have been imported at various times 
from Korea, China, or the Lu-chu Islands. From 
time immemorial the Japanese have not regarded 
the bamboo as a tree it forms a category apart, 
and they speak of " trees and bamboos " ; they say 
it belongs to the grasses, and is just a giant grass 
and nothing more. It is indeed a beautiful and 
wonderful grass with a rate of growth which cannot 
be compared to that of any other member of 

223 



FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

the vegetable kingdom ; some species are said to 
show a growth of several feet in the course of 
four-and-twenty hours, reminding one of one of 
the many ghastly forms of Chinese tortures, when 
a man is pegged to the ground on the top of a 
sprouting bamboo, whose shoots are so strong that 
they will grow right through the man's body in the 
course of a single night. 

Most people persist in regarding the bamboo as 
a tender tropical plant unable to stand our bitter 
Northern winters ; but there must be many hardy 
species, as often they may be seen bending under 
the weight of snow, even in the northern provinces 
of Japan, where the snow-fall is measured not in 
inches but in feet. Many varieties there are which 
no doubt would not flourish, varieties associated in 
one's mind with the gardens of Trinidad or the 
well-known Perediniya gardens in Ceylon, but 
these tropical species should not be confounded 
with the hardy forms which find their home in 
Japan and China. In the Bamboo Garden, the 
author has viewed the bamboo chiefly from the 
standpoint of acclimatisation in England, especially 
in the damper western and southern counties, for 
dampness seems essential to the life of a bamboo ; 
in fact, so greedy is it of moisture that in many 



THE BAMBOO 225 

countries where the rainfall in summer is small the^ 
bamboo is condemned, as it sucks the life from sur- 
rounding plants. One of the commonest and most 
beautiful species, the moso dake or feathery bamboo, 
was an import from China ; it is so named from its 
golden stem and overhanging plume-like fronds 
appearing like a group of feathers ; and it is 
used to a great extent as one of the features of a 
Japanese garden. Other imported species are the 
hochiku tree or square bamboo, and the samo chiku, 
whose stems when young are of a bright red 
hue. These bamboos were imported for industrial 
uses or for the adornment of rich men's gardens ; 
and besides these there is a long list of other native 
and foreign varieties. 

To the bamboo the Japanese owe much, for it 
would seem to be the cause of much of their clever 
constructive work ; properly handled it will do 
most things, but it is necessary to understand its 
proper treatment and peculiar qualities. How 
puzzled an English carpenter would be if he were 
asked to construct one of those delicate, dainty 
little tea-rooms entirely of bamboo ! which it is 
possible to do. 

The larger species will provide a combination of 
lightness and strength, which makes them an admir- 

29 



226 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

able framework for houses, and an intermediate size 
will make ornamental doors or panelling, the vary- 
ing height of the joints forming a natural pattern ; 
while the ornamental floor of the verandah can be 
made of bamboo. The water-pipes will be of bam- 
boo, as they neither rust like iron nor get hot like 
wood ; and the carpenter will tell you that bamboo 
nails serve better for certain purposes than metal 
ones, being non-conductors of heat and non-cor- 
rosible. The thick poles seem remarkably strong, 
and are always used for carrying heavy weights and 
for punt poles. The national flag of the Rising Sun 
is sure to be flying from a bamboo. A complete 
list of its uses would appear to be never-ending, but 
it is amusing to think how many things in daily 
use in Japan are made of this " grass." The smaller 
kinds make fans and baskets, penholders and 
tobacco-pipe stems, umbrellas and coolies' hats, 
ladles and delicate whisks for stirring the " honour- 
able tea " at a tea ceremony, chopsticks for every- 
day use, and bird-cages, fishing-rods and walking- 
sticks, flutes and trumpets, every description of toy, 
and ornaments of innumerable kinds. Sandals and 
the soles of clogs are made from the dried sheath of 
the culm of the young bamboo, and it also serves 
for wrapping up such things as rice sandwiches, 



THE BAMBOO 

meat and cake, or anything which is liable to stain 
its receptacle. Fish-baskets made of split bamboo 
have a clean, cool lining of sasa or bamboo grass, 
a variety which grows on hills or by the wayside ; 
in spring its leaves are of the brightest green, but 
become edged with white as the year wanes, pro- 
ducing the effect of a variegated form. Other kinds, 
split and twisted, make strong hawsers, and are even 
used in rural districts in the construction of bridges ; 
and yet another kind is boiled and flattened out 
into trays which are much prized. The young 
shoots are boiled and eaten, and taste rather like 
flavourless asparagus. So there is no end to the 
uses of the bamboo. As mentioned elsewhere, it is 
one of the " four gentlemen of the floral kingdom," 
being associated with the pine, orchid, and plum. 
Its never-fading colour causes it to be compared 
to the virtue of man or the chastity of woman. O 
Take, meaning honourable bamboo, is one of the 
popular names for a Japanese girl ; and their 
writers and poets use it frequently as a now de 
plume. 

One of the first stories of Japanese literature, 
in the tenth century, was called Taketori Mono- 
gatan. Taketori, meaning bamboo gatherer, is 
the story of an old man who made his living by 



FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

making bamboo ware. One day he saw in the 
woods a bamboo with a shining stem ; he split it 
open, and discovered in one of the joints a beautiful 
little maiden only three inches in height. He took 
this wonderful little bamboo maiden home and 
adopted her as his daughter, giving her the name of 
Kagujakime or the " Shining Lady." She grew 
up to womanhood, and her marvellous beauty 
attracted many admirers. She assigned a quest to 
each of them, under the promise that she would 
marry the suitor who should succeed in accomplish- 
ing the task allotted to him. One lover was told 
to fetch Buddha's begging bowl of stone from India ; 
another, to bring her a branch of the tree with roots 
of silver, stem of gold, and fruit of jewels, which 
grew in the fabulous island paradise of Mount 
Horai ; from the third she required a garment 
made of the fur of the fire-rat, supposed to be non- 
inflammable ; a fourth was to get the shining jewel 
of many hues from the dragon's head ; and the fifth 
a swallow's cowry shell. It is no wonder that they 
all failed. This bamboo maiden was then wooed by 
the Emperor, but equally in vain, though they 
remained on friendly terms and kept up an ex- 
change of sentimental uta poems. She was eventu- 
ally taken up to heaven in a flying chariot, brought 



THE BAMBOO 

by her relations in the moon ; for it seems she hacL 
been banished to earth for an offence which she had 
committed. Thus this wonderful " Shining Lady," 
from the joint of a bamboo, only three inches high 
disappears. 

Another bamboo fairy-story dear to the hearts 
of all Japanese children is that of the Tongue- 
cut Sparrow. Sparrows and bamboos have been 
the closest friends from an unknown age, and we 
hear the song " The sparrows sing on the bamboos 
so sweetly." The bamboo and sparrows combined 
form the crest of the great lord of Sendai. Any 
Japanese child will tell you how the poor little 
sparrow was driven out of his bamboo cage after 
losing his little tongue, because he had eaten starch 
for washing clothes belonging to a mean old woman. 
When her husband returned home from the 
mountain and learned the fate of his pet bird, he 
said, " He meant nothing bad in eating your starch. 
When you could so easily have forgiven him, how 
could you be so cruel as to cut off his tongue and 
drive him away ? If I had been here he should never 
have been punished so severely : this heartless deed 
was done because I was away. Alas 1 how can I 
help shedding tears?" He started out the next 
morning to find his lost pet, singing 



230 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

"Tongue-cut sparrow, 
Where are you ? 
Where is your lodging, 
Where are you ? 
Tongue-cut sparrow, 
Chu, Chu, Chu." 

The sparrow soon recognised the voice of his 
master, and jumped out of his house, exclaiming, 
" Pray enter my humble home ! " The house 
was made, of course, of bamboo bush, as sparrows' 
houses always are, and the pillars and roofs were 
also of bamboo. The sparrow said, " You have 
come a long way to see me. How can I thank 
you enough ! I cannot help shedding tears of 
joy." The story goes on to tell of all the strange 
things the sparrow did, which turned to fortune 
for the old man. However, when his wife came 
singing the same song, her greediness made her 
bring a heavy basket instead of a light one, as 
her husband had done. So when she opened the 
cover she found not gold and treasures as her 
husband had done, but a monster with three eyes, 
a giant toad, a viper, and other terrible reptiles. 

Another simple Chinese story is from the so- 
called " Four-and-Twenty Paragons of Filial Piety." 
There was a man whose filial piety was so 
wonderful that his true heart moved even Heaven 



IRISES, HORIKIRf 



THE BAMBOO 231 

and Earth. His old mother wished to eat the tender 
bamboo shoots one cold winter day when it was 
absurd to try and get them. This man started 
towards a bush of bamboo to look into it, and 
there, to his great surprise, he found plenty of the 
new shoots. It is said that his great filial piety 
moved the hearts of the bamboo bushes and they 
answered his true devotion voluntarily. Filial 
piety is the virtue par excellence of the Eastern 
world ; such a story is very popular with the 
Japanese people, and is read to their children to 
encourage their devotion towards their old parents. 
Like its associate the pine, the bamboo plays an 
important part in the art of flower arrangement, 
though there again we are told by Mr. Conder that 
strictly speaking it is regarded as neither a tree nor 
a plant. Possibly the most important of all its uses 
in the art lies in the fact that so many of the 
vessels made for holding the flowers are made of 
bamboo, some merely plain sections, others of the 
most fanciful description. Some of the baskets of 
Chinese origin were made of split bamboo, and were 
so much prized in Japan that high prices were given 
for antique specimens. So complicated an art 
does this one of floral arrangement appear to be, 
that it would require many years to learn the 



FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

correct choice of the vessels into which certain 
flowers should be arranged, which flowers are suit- 
able as offerings for ceremonial occasions, the 
correct combination of flowers and trees or shrubs, 
and the shape in which they are to be arranged. 
The list of bamboo vessels alone, with their fanciful 
names, would require months to master, and no doubt 
in each separate one only certain flowers are per- 
missible. The original use of bamboo flower- vases 
seems to date from the days of Yoshimasa, and, 
like so many other things, started by being merely 
simple sections of a thick bamboo cut so that the 
bottom was closed by a natural division, and the 
cylinders were a foot or so high. Then came the 
invention of innumerable fancy forms : portions of 
the sides were notched out, side apertures were 
introduced, and sometimes four or five compositions 
were arranged in one vase. The names chiefly 
refer to some fancied resemblance in the general 
shape so we read of the Lion's Mouth shape, 
the Travelling-Pillow shape, Chinese Gateway, 
Shark's Mouth, Wild Geese's Gateway, Lantern 
shape, Five Storey shape, Crane's Neck shape, and 
Monkey shape; in fact a list of many pages in 
length might be given of all the varieties, but from 
the above will be seen the extreme faricifulness of 



THE BAMBOO 233 

the supposed resemblance. Then, again, do not 
imagine that the much -prized baskets are just a 
basket and nothing more. They also assume fanci- 
ful names and shapes, such as the Raincoat basket, 
so called because the frayed top hanging over the 
edge is suggestive of the collar of a Japanese 
farmer's straw raincoat; Cicada and Butterfly 
baskets, from their resemblance to the insect ; and 
the Hood-shaped basket, suggesting the shape of the 
hoods worn by Japanese women in cold weather. 

Then we come to perhaps the prettiest of all, 
the boat-shaped vessels, which are suspended by a 
cord or chain. The simplest of these are bamboo 
tubes splayed off at the ends, hollowed out, and 
hung horizontally. These, one would have thought, 
were probably their original form as conceived by 
Yoshimasa whilst observing children sailing toy 
boats filled with flowers ; but the more elaborate 
bronze vases in exact imitation of ships and junks 
came first, and the simpler ones are of later origin. 
Some attribute the first use of boat vases to the 
fact that the celebrated philosopher Soami, to please 
his patron Yoshimasa, took a bronze vessel of 
accidental resemblance to a boat, and by his arrange- 
ment of the flowers suggested the idea of a sailing 
vessel. The regent was so pleased with this novel 

30 



234 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

flower arrangement that Soami devoted his 
attention to drawing up certain rules with regard 
to boat arrangements. 

Bamboo rafts formed of bamboos of different 
lengths tied together to hang horizontally, either 
supporting a basket of flowers, or with one of the 
tubes hollowed so as to hold the stems of the 
branches, show yet another way in which the 
bamboo is used. Such a raft laden with cherry 
blossoms is arranged to suggest the mountain 
scenery of Arashiyama and the flower-laden craft 
in the season of cherry blossoms. The correct use 
of the branches of bamboo as a decoration would 
appear to be no less complicated than the choice of 
the vessels. A portion of the round stem or tube 
is selected and only a few leaf-clad twigs are per- 
mitted to remain, and, according to the occasion for 
which the arrangement is being made, the tube 
must be splayed or cut horizontally. For instance, 
for wedding feasts the cut must be concealed by 
leaves, as the sight of it would be considered 
unlucky and suggestive of severed friendship. 
Regulations also exist as to the number of twigs or 
leaves which are to be left on the stems, three or 
five as a rule; and yet further rules as to the number 
of leaves to be left on these same twigs. Three 



THE BAMBOO 235 

combinations are approved, known as the Fish 
tail, Goldfish tail, and Flying Geese shape, which 
consists of three sloping leaves suggestive of the 
outline of a wild goose in flight. Probably the 
best known combination is that of the pine, bamboo, 
and plum, as it is specially employed at the New 
Year, when almost every house in Japan will have 
such a combination arranged on the tokonoma. 
Enough has been said to show the bewildering 
number of laws and regulations that surround this 
especial art, and it is not to be wondered at that 
Mr. Conder is probably the only foreigner who has 
ever mastered the subject, as indeed it requires 
years of study before a flower arrangement com- 
pleted by the hand of one who is not a Japanese 
could hope to pass muster before the critical eye of 
the professor. 



CHAPTER XVIII 

THE PINE-TREE 

THE pine-trees Matsu-no-ki of Japan are so 
closely and inseparably associated with the country, 
in the beauty of the landscape, the national 
customs and the national art, that it seems im- 
possible when describing the floral year to omit 
the pine-trees, surely the grandest and noblest 
decoration of the land. They seem to welcome 
you to Japan, for as your ship glides up the Inland 
Sea the pine-trees will greet you on every side, 
the mountains will be clad with their eternal green, 
every island will have some venerable trees 
twisted and bent by storms and age. To the 
Japanese the pine is the king of trees, full of 
poetical suggestion and perfectly incomparable ; 
and certainly it would be impossible to imagine 
Japan without her pine-trees. The impressive 
grandeur of every Shinto temple, every Buddhist 

236 



THE PINE-TREE 237 

shrine, is deepened by the grey -green trees standing 
in their silent gardens ; they seem a necessity to 
such august places. Think of the pines at Uyeno 
or at Shiba ; their merit is as great as the cherry- 
trees in the parks; to them and the cryptomeria 
belongs the task of guarding all the temples of the 
land. Every Tokugawa feudal castle had a moat 
bordered with pine-trees how many have now 
been swept away and nothing left but a mean- 
ingless waste! The Imperial palace is chiefly 
shaded by the trees, their heavy foliage suggest- 
ing the depth of the forest. To-day every common 
house and garden has its guardian pine-tree at the 
gate. 

The Japanese are very fond of visiting special 
meisho or "famous places," and how many of 
these places have been made famous by the beauty 
of their pine-trees, for where is the spot of 
natural beauty in all the country which has no 
pines? The three most "famous places" owe 
their beauty to water and the pines, nothing else. 
The great hokku poet Basho found himself quite 
unable to sing his " seventeen syllables " at Matsu- 
shima, the land of the pine-clad islands ; he was a 
wandering poet who left a line or two wherever 
he went, but here he considered his silence was 



238 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

the greatest song of praise for the place, which he 
said was the best in Japan. He wrote in his diary : 
" One isle stands pointing up to the sky ; another 
bows crawling over the waves ; one parts at the 
left, another joins again at ,the right. The green 
beauty of the pine-trees is superb ; the branches 
and leaves are bent quite naturally by the wind 
and tide." Indeed I do not wonder that he found 
himself unable to describe this land of fairy isles 
within the limits of seventeen syllables, for given 
unlimited space and an unlimited number of 
syllables it is hard to convey any idea of the beauty 
of the scene. Eight and its compounds are 
favourite round numbers with the Japanese, so 
they assured me that there were 808 in all of these 
tiny islands ; and surely no one would dispute it. 
Each great winter storm sweeping in from the 
Pacific makes one or more of these toy islands 
crumble and disappear ; but the sea makes rapid 
inroads and hollows out fresh archways or fresh 
tunnels, so very quickly a promontory breaks off' 
and forms a new island, to be given a new fancy 
name, thus keeping up the traditional number. 
In every available nook stands one of the storm - 
bent trees which have given name and fame to 
the locality, whose praises have been sung by 



THE PINE-TREE 239 

thousands of poets and how many kakemono ; 
screens and fusuma have been adorned with the 
conventional views of Matsu-shima ; Oshima, deco- 
rated with its shrines and lanterns, and connected 
with the mainland by a slender bridge, half hidden 
by the leaning trees, is perhaps the most favourite 
theme for the artist and poet. The pines of 
Matsu-shima appeared to be all the variety known 
as Pinus demiflora possibly the most beautiful of 
all, with its red stems and deep-green foliage. 

I read of them described as in the "form of 
crouching dragons, red-scaled and rough, with fins 
of living green." Another of the three " famous 
places " of the Empire is associated purely with 
pine and water ; for to the eye of the unpoetical 
foreigner Ama~ no - Hashi - date, a spot where 
thousands of Japanese congregate annually, is 
nothing but a long narrow sandy peninsula with 
an avenue of leaning pine-trees on either side. 
Its poetical name, meaning the Bridge or Ladder 
of Heaven, was given to the spot in allusion to 
Ama-no-uki-hashi or Floating Bridge of Heaven, 
whereon Izanagi and Iganami stood when they 
stirred up the brine of the primeval chaos with 
their jewelled spear, the drops from which con- 
solidated into the first island of the Japanese 



240 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

archipelago. Though the name of the locality 
is not derived from its association with the pine, 
there are many points from whence the prospect is 
most admired, such as Ippon Matsu (One Pine- 
tree) which have been called after the trees ; and 
under the branches of this solitary tree the 
poet may sit and meditate and compose his ode 
to the lovely scene. The long narrow spit, the 
tranquil water, and a few moored junks is another 
favourite scene for the Japanese artist. 

To the European the last of the three great 
sights will appeal more surely, for no one could 
fail to be lost in admiration of Miyajima or 
Itsukushima, the holy island of the Inland Sea. 
It well deserves its rank among the famous places. 
The Japanese are said to admire it most under 
snow. I have never seen it under those conditions ; 
but I can imagine no more beautiful scene than 
meets the eye in the early morning of a scorching 
August day, when the sampan floats across to this 
pine-clad island, the light haze just clearing from 
the woods, the great temple looking as if it were 
floating on the water, and the noblest, simplest 
gateway ever devised, the great wooden torii, 
standing, as it were, knee-deep in the sea. The 
giant leaning pines shade the never-ending line of 



THE PINE-TREE 

lanterns along the shore, their gnarled roots and 
trunks almost lapped by the waves ; and here and 
there a twisted tree will seem to be hanging in 
mid-air, so slender does its root-hold look upon 
the cliff. The same eternal pines guard the 
little shrines all up the hill, and gather round the 
temple at the summit, from whence the prospect 
is the fairest man can see. Across the sea, 
as calm as a lagoon, so calm that it is hard to 
realise its surface is ever ruffled by winter storms, 
will rise other pine-clad islands, but surely none 
so fair as this. 

The beauties of Lake Biwa, " a shell of mist and 
light," are sung universally. Constant reference is 
made in Japanese poetry to the eight views, known 
as the celebrated " Eight Beauties of Omi " : the 
autumn moon seen from Ishiyama ; the waning 
moon on Hiragama ; the sunset at Seta ; the evening 
bell of Miidera ; the boats sailing back from Gabase ; 
the bright sky with a breeze at Awazu ; rain by 
night at Karasaki ; and the wild geese alighted at 
Katata. If you examine these places, you will 
find that the pine-tree makes a background for 
most of them ; and the rain by night would have 
no meaning if the pine-tree of Karasaki were not 
there. Probably this is the largest and most curious 

31 



FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

pine in the world ; its great branches sweep outwards 
and downwards till they almost touch the ground, 
and, owing to the tree's great age, have to be 
supported by wooden props and stone cushions. A 
poet writes of the old Karasaki tree 

There is a pine, a fount of age, 
Root cramped the land and sea between ; 
Of mighty limbs, that curve and rage 
In eddying knots, and gusts of green. 

Its ancient trunk is lichen writ 
With autographs of centuries ; 
The years, like sparrows, perch on it, 
And twitter plaintive memories. 

As usual convention enters largely into this 
Japanese choice of especially lovely scenes, and 
probably were a foreigner asked to choose " Eight 
Beauties of Omi " he would name eight entirely 
different scenes. Certainly for one, I should choose 
the view from the top of the Castle of Hikone 
when the rice is still young and green, and the 
bloom of the honey-scented rape plant spreads 
broad stretches of yellow on the plains, forming 
a brilliant foreground to the lake beyond. 

Next to Lake Biwa, although more properly 
speaking it is a lagoon, Lake Hamana is their 
largest lake, and here again the pine does so much 
in beautifying the whole scenery. Hamamatsu, 



THE TINE-TREE 243 

meaning the Pines of the Beach, is an historical 
place for pine-trees, and just beyond it lies the 
entrance to the lagoon ; from the bridge can be 
seen on one side the breakers of the Pacific, and 
on the other the deeply indented shore line, clad 
with pine-trees, stretches away as far as the eye 
can see, while the mountains rise range upon range 
above the clear still water and form a picture dear 
to the heart of the poet. 

If I were to tell you of all the places in Japan 
famous for their pine-trees, it would be one never- 
ending list, the pine is everywhere. If you travel 
along the sandy shore at Maiko or at Suma, across 
to the northern coast at Tsuruga, or at Maizuru, 
where the wonderful trees are of great antiquity, or 
back again to the coast near Kamakura, with the 
pine-clad island of Enoshima rising from the sea 
like a high green mass, through all the district of 
Hakone, or up north at Nikko, you will find the 
pine-trees, no scenery can be parted from them ; 
and if you are the happy possessor of a Japanese 
garden, the pine-tree will greet you at the gate. 

Not only have the beauties of the pine been 
sung by poets for a thousand years, but they are 
also considered emblems of constancy, endur- 
ance, health, and longevity. The famous pines of 

31a 



244 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

Takasago are well known as the theme of the 
play in which the spirits of the pine-trees will 
appear as human shapes to celebrate the age of 
gold and happy life. The trees, with the colour 
of eternity and with their unexhausted life, are 
regarded as emblems of joy. It is the custom to 
sing a passage from this Takasago play at wedding 
ceremonies. The spirits of the two ancient pine- 
trees, personified as an old man and an old woman 
engaged in a never-ending task of raking up pine 
needles, are the subject, typifying longevity. The 
following is a passage from the play : 

The dawn is near, and the hoar frost falls on the pine- 
tree twigs; but its dark green leaves suffer no change. 
Morning and evening beneath its shade the leaves are swept 
away, yet they never fail. True it is that these pine-trees 
shed not all their leaves, their verdure remains fresh for ages 
long ; even among evergreen trees the emblem of unchange- 
ableness exalted is their fame to the end of time the fame 
of the two pine-trees that have grown old together. 

Their true poets seem never to tire of the pine, 
and it seems especially to appeal to the essentially 
poetical mind of the whole nation. In order to 
show me how it can be made the theme of poems 
and songs in conjunction with so many different 
subjects, a poet said to me, " It is simply wonder- 
ful to know what a good harmony the pine-tree 



AZALEA AND PINE-TREE 



THE PINE-TREE 245 

keeps with other natural subjects ; it harmonises 
with the misty spring moon, as well as with the 
summer moon. A well-known poem has been 
written on the pine-tree of the rainy season ; and 
many poets sing of it together with the autumnal 
moon, and also it harmonises perfectly with the 
winter moon. You will find hundreds of poems 
written on the pines under snow ; and the rain 
makes a beautiful combination with it also. It 
harmonises with mists, winds, and thunder lights ; 
and you will see many pictures of the pine-tree 
and the rising sun. There is no better sight than 
to see it with the waves of the sea ; and it goes 
well together with birds, with storks, pigeons, and 
with turtles or monkeys. The cuckoo will remind 
you of the pine-tree, and it makes a good subject 
with fire-flies and cicadae." It is said that the 
pine is a brother of the plum and bamboo, and 
they make their appearance together in various 
forms on occasions of congratulation ; and in 
conjunction with the crane and tortoise it is used 
in decoration to express the sentiment of happy 
old age. 

The pine plays so large a part in the art of 
flower arrangement, so admirably described by 
Mr. Conder, that I cannot do better than quote 



246 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

some passages from the Floral Art of Japan in 
reference to the pine. 

Flowers used at Moon-viewing 

Moon- vie wing is at all times a favourite pastime of the 
Japanese, but the great moon festival of the year is on the 
fifteenth day of the eighth month. The more important 
dwellings have a special chamber from which the sight of 
the moonlit landscape can be enjoyed. The floral arrange- 
ment occupies the recess of the chamber, and has of course 
no real connection with the outside prospect ; but in the 
flower composition itself the moonlit landscape is expressed. 
A branch of a pine-tree is used, and between the principal 
and secondary lines of the composition a special branch is 
introduced, fancifully called the moon-shadow-branch; a 
hollow gap is also formed between the foliage, bounded by 
a special branch called the dividing-branch. In the composi- 
tion the idea is to suggest both the opening through which 
the moon can be partially observed and the dark branch 
which appears to cross its surface. To fully appreciate the 
analogy one must be familiar with the scenery of Japan, and 
have seen, on a clear night, the irregular pine-trees standing 
out against the moonlit heavens. 

We are told that the principal kinds of pine are 
the Pinus Thunbergia, known by the Japanese as 
the black or male pine ; Pinus densiflora, called the 
red or female pine ; and Pinus parviflora. There 
appear to be many different ways of arranging the 
pine branches, but in all cases they are left as much 
as possible in their natural state ; a favourite treat- 



THE PINE-TREE 247 

ment is that of a broad stump cut off horizontally, 
with a thick twisted branch springing from its base. 
Pinus parviflora, on account of the straightness and 
delicacy of its leaves, is often arranged in a simple 
vertical style, using the sprays ; but for com- 
positions with other species of the tree, thick 
gnarled branches are preferred. Mr. Conder also 
tells us of a pretty and poetical arrangement in 
connection with wedding ceremonies 

At wedding feasts a double arrangement in a pair of 
similar standing vases is employed. For this purpose a 
branch of the male pine is placed in one vessel, and a branch 
of the female pine in the other. The general form of each 
design would be similar, but the branch of the female pine 
facing the opposite vase should stretch a little beneath the 
corresponding branch of the male pine. These together are 
called the "Destiny-uniting"" branches, and the complete 
design is said to typify eternal union. 

In another passage he tells us how faithfully 
they reproduce the effect of the forest as 

Occasionally in suspended arrangements of pine, long stiff 
threads are hung from the branches, in conventional imitation 
of the parasitic grasses which attach themselves to this tree ; 
and in disposing such threads, their balance into groups of 
three, five, or seven irregular lengths is carefully attended to. 

Another very favourite form of fancy arrange- 
ment is called the " Fuji pine," as in such a com- 



248 FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF JAPAN 

position a branch is bent to resemble the outline of 
Mount Fuji, and is combined with other branches 
and foliage in such a manner as to give the profile 
of the bare conical peak, and suggest at the same 
time the wooded country at its base. 

Yet another form of pine decoration is the 
Kadomatsu or pair of gate pines, which are the most 
important decorations in front of every house at 
the New Year ; the first seven days of the year are 
called Matsu no uchi or " Within the Pines." The 
origin of these Kadomatsu dates as far back as eight 
hundred and fifty years. One of the old Kadomatsu 
poets says 

Kadomatsu no, itonami tatsuru sono hodoni 
Haru akegatatano yoya narinuran. 

(While busy decorating the pines at the gate, 
The dawn of the New Year speedily comes. ) 

The pines in front of the gates are placed in 
pairs the rougher and more prickly one, called 
Thunbergi or male pine, on the left, which is the 
side of honour in Japan ; the softer and more grace- 
ful one, P. densiftora or the female pine, on the 
right. The custom of adding bamboo is of more 
recent origin ; and the other decorations include a 
rope, especially named shimenawa, with strips of 



THE PINE-TREE 249 

white paper, a cray fish, ferns, a large orange called 
dai dai, a leaf or two of an evergreen tree, dried 
persimmons, dried chestnuts, etc. Each one of 
these articles has its own peculiar origin, and is a 
symbol of good luck for the year and for life. The 
poet Ikku Zenzi writes 

At every door the pine-trees stand, 
One mile-post more to the spirit land ; 
And as there's gladness, so there's sadness. 

And indeed, whatever the pine-trees at the gate 
may mean, it is for ourselves to choose whether we 
be happy or sad. 



THE END 



Printed by R. & R. CI.ARK, LIMITED, Edinburgh. 



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